FLOOD defence tree removal work in Dingwall will not destroy the local wildlife habitat, Highland Council has insisted.
It has moved to reassure residents that "adequate habitat" will remain near the canal path once it clears back trees and foliage on the banks.
Substantial tree growth has occurred in the area since the construction of the flood defences in the 1980s.
But a decision was taken to clear them back after a recent inspection found they were now risking the integrity of the defence as well as hindering more detailed checks from being carried out. The inspection team also noted some areas of erosion and subsidence which are "likely to require remediation works".
A council spokeswoman said: "The council appreciates the importance of trees within the environment and have not taken the decision to carry out the works lightly.
"Consultation has taken place with tree officers, ecologists, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency during the planning of these works to ensure that the scope of works was limited to what is necessary and acceptable without affecting the local habitats.
"Where the clearance works will significantly change the outlook along the canal path, the council is however reassured by their ecologists that adequate habitat for local species will remain in place."
Apex Trees has been appointed to clear vegetation along a section of the defences from the railway line to Ferry Point. Work is now underway and is expected to last around two weeks.
During the work part of the path along the embankment will be closed during daylight hours on weekdays, as well as between 8am and 1pm on Saturdays.
"The public are asked to follow on site safety notices detailing alternate routes," added the spokeswoman.