Ratagan Forest Group Working Plan 1960
This working plan, most of which was compiled in 1960, is a bit unusual as it covers four forest units which at the time were administered as separate units but by 1970 had amalgamated into one unit named as Ratagan Forest. Part of the Working Plan does have some later additions following a full survey of the forest in 1966 (Updated area analysis of tree species by yield class) and also up dated history of land purchase and sales up to 1970.
The four forest units described:
1. Ratagan Forest which at the time consisted of three areas namely Ratagan beside Loch Duich, Moyle over the hill and the third being the recent purchase of Ardintoul.
2. Inverinate Forest on the north side of Loch Duich and included the area known as Dorisduan
3. Eilanreach Forest near Glenelg but was formed from the areas further south at Glenbeag and the down towards Loch Hourn
4. Glenshiel Forest formed from four areas in Glen Shiel below the Five Sisters separated by sheep passes.
The first acquisition in 1921 totalling 4941 acres was the main part of Ratagan but the records show that one year later just over half the area (Beolary and Knockfin) was feud to the Board of Agriculture presumably for provision of holdings for those wishing to farm or graze animals.
Much of the plan is taken up with schedules of land and areas of species planted along with descriptions of soil, geology, organisation of the forests and plantable reserves at time of writing. There is a descriptive section (PDF Page 122) in Chapter 8 on the process of ‘Resumption of land as per Directorate Instruction dated 25th March 1958’ and describes some of the process of gaining clearance from DOAS to plant any land that has been purchased by the Forestry Commission.
Chapters 9, 10 and 11 describe the past choice of species for the soil conditions experienced, the processes of ground preparation for planting of trees and planting methods as well as a history of thinning and felling. There is a brief mention of Schlich spades, pit planting and planting on turves and further on the previous needs for fencing, cleaning, draining and brashing of growing trees.
Chapter 13 describes the difficult past problems of trying to maintain a regular thinning cycle and felling programme that maximised the potential growth from the tree crops in the face of difficult terrain, lack of markets and very limited equipment. This is further highlighted in Chapter 16 which describes in some detail the programmes and costs and incomes of thinning since 1950 and such merchants as John M MacDonald Ltd of Inverness, H D Armstrong Ltd of Inverness, Lochaber Sawmills of Glasgow, A G and W J Riddoch of Rothiemay,James MacDonald and Son of Alyth and Timbuyers Ltd ofBucksburn. There is an interesting note on the use of puffers to transport timber from Loch Duich to Ayrshire (Adam Wilson of Troon) commencing in 1944 and running until 1946 when over 30 boat loads were dispatched. Prior to this the Forestry Commission had commenced in 1938 the process of converting harvested timber in fencing material for sale to local farmers and this process carried on at Ratagan sawmill for the next forty years.
Senior and Forester Staff from 1921 are listed in chapter 19 (page 129 in PDF) are numerous and herewith a list of names only:
Conservators, Divisional and District Officers: L A Newton, F Scott, J W Mackay, J Meldrum, J Fraser, H C Beresford-Pierse, D S Spraggan, A M Fraser, A Watt, A L Orr Ewing, J T Fitsherbert, J A Dixon, R O Drummond, R A Innes, J Chrystall, J A Drummond.
Foresters and foremen listed are: J A MacAlpine, J Mackay, J M Ferguson, J T Mackay, W Murray, A MacIntosh, R Campbell, J D MacLean, W E Stoddart, A Murray, J A Mackay, D M MacLeod, C MacDonald, E MacPherson, A Mackay, C MacIntosh, D R Smith, M P Scott, W Nicolson, J W Chree, D Campbell, A R MacLean, J W Taylor.
The years they managed the forest areas are all listed in the PDF along with the numbers only of the working staff in 1960, the numbers of Forest Worker Holdings and Forestry Houses, stone built as well as Timer Swedish Houses.
Please note that some of the pages in the PDF require to be turned though 90 degrees to be easily read. This can normally be done with the PDF on your screen in Firefox Mozilla browser and going into the top bar menu, clicking on double chevron on right and then select the direction you wish to turn the page. You have to reverse this process when you scroll forward and arrive at a normal vertical page. I have had no luck in doing this with Internet Explorer so far!
Picture added on 24 October 2015