Monday 20 October 2014

Up to 7.5 million trees felled by Storm Darwin

Published 05/03/2014 | 07:52

Thomas Cosby stands where about 300 evergreen trees were floored by Storm Darwin at Stradbally Estate, Co. Laois.
Photo: Alf Harvey
Thomas Cosby stands where about 300 evergreen trees were floored by Storm Darwin at Stradbally Estate, Co. Laois. Photo: Alf Harvey

Up to 7.5 million trees fell in forests during Storm Darwin on February 12, according to estimates from the forestry industry.

Between 5,000 and 7,000 hectares of forest were blown down, mostly in Munster, according to the windblow taskforce which was set up by the Department of Agriculture.

Thinned Sitka spruce, lodge pole pine, and broadleaf forests suffered damage.

Donal Whelan, technical director of the Irish Timber Growers Association, said much of the damage was in forests.

He said the felled trees represent less than one per cent of Ireland's forest volume.

However, it accounts for nearly half the annual timber cut.

The trees will now be processed at sawmills over the next eight to 10 months.

Uprooted trees can be processed by sawmills in the normal way but the timber from broken trees may have to be recycled for other less lucrative uses such as wood pellets, wood pulp and fire wood.

A little more than 10pc of Irish land is under forestry, with the State forestry agency Coillte controlling 53pc of this acreage and rest privately owned.

Some 19,000 farmers have land under forestry which qualifies for forestry premia from the Department.

Apart from timber quality issues caused by the wind blow, the damage caused by the storms will impact on felling rotation schedules for the plantation owners.

Many may choose to use the damaged trees as part of this year's cut and delay harvesting other areas.

The southwest and the south were the areas most affected by Storm Darwin. About 300 evergreen trees were floored by the storm at Stradbally Estate, Co. Laois.

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