Thinning contracts 'vital' forestry owners warned
Forestry owners have been advised to secure binding agreements with forestry contractors before starting thinning operations on plantations.
The warnings follow complaints from a number of growers regarding delayed payments for timber following the thinning of woodlands.
There have also been reports of forests being 'raped' during thinning, with an excessive number of trees being felled by contractors.
In addition, forestry advisers complained of growers being "stung" by some contractors, with timber being undervalued and no proper record being kept of the amount of timber that was cut and removed from woods.
Forestry sources insisted that the problems arose with a small minority of contractors but they said that growers should be aware that "a few unscrupulous" operators were preying on inexperienced plantation owners.
"The bigger saw mills are reputable businesses, the trouble is with small a few small contractors. These are the real cowboys," one forestry consultant in the south maintained.
Forestry advisers said there was an increasing incidence of problems arising between contractors and woodland owners concerning the value of thinnings, payment delays and, in extreme cases, allegations of timber being stolen.