GROUND PREPARATION is an essential part of forestry, and businesses were this week hoping for some sign that work can recommence so that the many thousands of young trees sitting in bags across the country can be planted.

Dumfries-based forestry establishment business Carron Valley Plant Ltd is one of those raring to go. Established some 30-years ago, the three-man firm, headed up by founder William Brown, is contracted to Forestry and Land Scotland, which is the Scottish Government agency responsible for managing the region’s national forests and land.

Mr Brown and his team are currently on ‘lockdown’ with the rest of the country, and the big Hyundai 'high-walker' machines they use for ground prep are currently idle: "We are hoping that this situation will change in the coming days and we will be allowed to get back to work. We are ‘isolated’ workers, therefore low risk. Ground preparation is an important part of forestry and as it stands there are more than 50,000 trees sitting in bags waiting to be planted – we await the FLS decision.”

He has two of the 14 tonne, Hyundai forestry HX140 high-walker crawler excavators in his fleet, which are operated by Sammy McEwan and Chris Chapman, the newest of which was purchased in November of last year from local dealers Agritrac Exports.

“The Hyundais have proved to be much better than the machines I used to run” reported Mr Brown. “They are never idle and run from 6am to 6pm, Monday to Friday and we have no bother with them at all. They are very good on fuel too – the lads will get a day and a half’s work on just one tank.”

Carron Valley Plant is responsible for the ‘mounding’ or ground preparation for FLS. Ground preparation within the forest can be extremely difficult and challenging, which is why specially designed machines are needed in this type of environment.

“The Hyundai high-walker is delivered with full-length track guards as standard – these fully cover the roller frame which prevents wood and forest waste from getting into the tracks," said Mr Brown. "The machine’s ground clearance is 600mm to the turret plate, which enables it to clear the height of wood stumps. For extra protection on my machines, I also ordered reinforced belly plates, a half guard for the front window and extra lights.”

Should workload be particularly high, Mr Brown will hire in another high-walker from Agritrac Exports, and jump in the saddle himself. He is a long-term friend of Agritrac’s sales manager, Leigh Dalgleish, who he met around 10-years ago when Leigh was working for a competitor’s dealership. They remained pals and it was down to Leigh that William converted from his original brand of forestry excavator to the Hyundai, purchasing his first machine four years ago.

“The operators also really rate the machines highly” added William. “Sammy has said that the Hyundai is the best machine he’s ever had the opportunity to operate – and when doing a 12-hour shift – this is important! The machines are powerful, sturdy and the wide pads give the machines extra stability for working in often very marshy conditions – I can’t really fault them!”