Cutting through the red tape to harvest 2,000t of Irish timber
Two felling licences, 130 letters and emails and rain by the bucket-load
A recently completed first thinning of a fairly typical, albeit larger than average, forest illustrated the trials and rewards of carrying out this essential operation in a timely manner. The forest in question is 60ha, predominantly Sitka spruce, with a few small areas of lodgepole pine on the most infertile sections. Planted in 1994, nearly 40ha were deemed ready for thinning this year.
January 2011: Initial meeting with the owner, instructions received to prepare an advisory report. Inspections were carried out, which revealed that the owner had already brashed a number of inspection paths to allow access. Sample plots were measured to establish basal areas and mean tree sizes, and the route for a proposed forest road was determined. An application was also made for a general felling licence.
February-March 2011: The report was completed and recommendations regarding thinning, anticipated volumes, and the proposed forest road were discussed with the owner.
April-May 2011: The forest road scheme form one (application for approval) was submitted to the Forest Service for grant aid for a road of 1,000m.
July 2011: The general felling licence was granted, but was valid only until December 31, 2011, due to freshwater pearl mussel considerations.
Early August 2011: Road grant approval was then issued, subject to certain conditions, not least being that the road must be satisfactorily completed no later than September 30, 2011 with form two (application for payment) submitted by October 14. Fortunately, a good contractor is lined up in advance and available to move on site at short notice as soon as he is given the green light. A harvesting contractor is also engaged to fell the trees along the route of the road. The volume comes to just more than 400t.
Mid-September 2011: An extension to the approval period is essential. While the formation of the road is complete, ground conditions remain too wet for trucks to bring stone in. The Forest Service grants an extension until mid December, with the condition that form two is submitted by December 30.