The forestry and sawmilling sectors are urgently working with the Forestry Commission to free up more logs in the face of continuing difficulties accessing timber in snowbound Scottish forests.

Some mills are said to be concerned they could run out of timber to process because of repeated snowfalls blocking log extraction operations.

ConFor met the Forestry Commission last Friday and asked for extraction to be increased in more accessible forests.

ConFor chief executive Stuart Goodall said the snowfall was unprecedented, with up to a metre of snow in some forests and the disruption the worst for 25-30 years. He said deliveries from UK forests were only about 20% of normal levels.

“Clearly, this is causing real difficulties in getting enough wood to keep the mills running. Normally, mills would carry stocks to last them anything from three to four days up to one-and-a-half weeks,” he said. “It’s just-in-time manufacturing.”

Mr Goodall said it would also be difficult to use forest roads during the thaw for fear of damaging them.

Normally, snow would be cleared for forest operations to be continued, but repeated snowfalls and the long duration of the cold snap meant this had not been possible.

However, he said one mitigating factor was that sawmill customers were experiencing their own transport problems, easing pressure on the mills for deliveries.