Forestry owners work together to reap benefits
Opinions differ on whether to clearfell the forest when it reaches 30-years-old, as owners try to maximise the monies for the timber
While the annual forestry payment of €510/ha for 15-years is one of the main carrots for people to get into forestry, the subsidies actually pale in comparison to the €700/ha you could be averaging over a 30-year period in timber sales.
This was one of the key messages at the most recent field day organised by the Western Forestry Co-op with the Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA). Over 70 people attended from far and wide, including one intrepid traveller that journeyed over 330km by motorbike from Clonakilty.
It focused on the fortunes of the owners of small 2ha, 3ha and 7ha plots since they jointly decided to plant trees in 1989. The 12ha application was submitted by the Western Forestry Co-op under the Western Package Scheme.
From the very beginning, the advantages of working together became apparent. By joining together three small areas, establishment costs such as fencing and mounding were substantially reduced.
Management costs are also much lower on everything from vegetation control to inventory measurements later on.
Forest road construction is one of the most expensive outlays at €40-45/m plus VAT, but by working together only one forest road and stacking area was required, reducing construction costs dramatically - by as much as 66pc for each of the participants in this case. The site was planted with very productive Sitka spruce of excellent timber quality.
Victor Barber, operations manager with the Western Forestry Co-op, explained that the seed used here was of Queen Charlotte Islands (QCI) provenance.
Provenances can be a bit like cattle breeds - each provenance has its own advantages and disadvantages, but from what we saw on the day, this QCI was performing well.