Foresters need clearer advice on how to thin our woodlands
Having just returned home from a trip around Kerry, I am trying to reconcile the value of commercial woodland against the remarkable beauty of so many fine specimen trees found in places like the Killarney National Park, especially when seen growing in such scenic areas.
While looking in awe at a grove of ancient towering pines or enormous beech I couldn't stop myself doing some mental calculations as to the commercial value of such trees and then attempting to convert them in to tonnes of sawn planks and logs for the stove.
This led me to pondering on how we really have a rather limited approach to forestry here in Ireland.
I suppose this is principally due to the fact that we have so little woodland and that virtually our entire industry is based on just one species, the old reliable Sitka spruce.
But even spruce beyond a certain age and size can be difficult to sell as many of our sawmills are not geared to handle them.
A further problem arises when we consider the high percentage of Irish farmers who have had to plant some broadleaves as a condition for receiving the available grants.
Many of these trees are now being thinned, but even Teagasc seem to be at a bit of a loss as to how to advise us on the best means of getting the work done.
Now before my many friends in Teagasc leap to their phones in indignation, I must state that they have produced endless booklets and advisory sheets on thinning woodland, with many diagrams illustrating how to go about the task.