'First thinning should be all about quality'
Tom Cunningham planted 12ha of mainly Sitka spruce and Norway spruce in 1996 in Keelogues, Glinsk in Co Galway.
The farmer told how his forest thrived with only a few replacements needed in the early years.
He receives an annual forestry payment of nearly €5,000 per year for the first 20 years.
The IFA member told how he started to prepare for thinning when the forest was 17 years old. With the help of his forestry consultant Joe Doyle, he applied for a General Felling Licence and a forest road grant.
As his forest was in two blocks, he needed to have two roads accessing both plots.
The felling licence was approved for a five-year period. Tom said it is great that the licence remains valid for five years. "It allows plenty of scope to get the job done," he said.
He also urged people to carefully compare road building quotes and "make sure that the road is well built. Poorly [cheaply] built roads can collapse later on".
Although the building of forest roads is exempt from planning permission, the creation of an access from the forest road to a public road must be approved by the relevant Planning Authority. He needed planning permission from Galway County Council, which cost him around €1,000.