Abraham Kingston is a dairy and former drystock farmer from Drimoleague, West Cork. His 28 hectares support 45 dairy cows, as well as replacement heifers.
Abraham was one of the pioneers of farm forestry in the late 1980s when he decided to plant an out-farm near Ballydehob. He said: "The land in question was miles away from the home farm, was heavy in nature and ideal for forestry."
Grants for drainage had ceased at the time. Abraham planted over 47ha in 1987 with SWS Forestry Services. He is happy with his decision to opt for forestry at the time which he sees as another farm enterprise that suits his circumstances. He planted a further 14ha in 1997.
Abraham needed to improve access into his plantation so he built a grant-aided forest road. With this improved access, he thinned some of the conifer element of his forest, yielding a net profit of €16,000. He saw this thinning operation primarily as "an investment in the future of my forest and improving my final crop".
An area of 3.5ha had to be cleared and replanted following damage caused by Storm Darwin in 2014.
Despite the trees not having reached commercial maturity, Abraham estimates that the storm-damaged timber he cleared had earned almost €300 per ha per year since planting time. Abraham also carried out a second thinning on part of his forest around this time.
He believes there is plenty to be learned by and from other forest owners. "The group structure is an effective way to facilitate knowledge being shared." He believes forestry has a huge role in carbon mitigation and planting more forests will be beneficial both for the economy and the environment.
Abraham is an active member and treasurer of the Forest Owners Co-operative Society Ltd, a timber producer group based in Munster.
The co-operative aims to maximise financial returns and offers a range of services for its members. Abraham believes forest owners can (and should) optimise their resource by working together.
He is also one of the co-operative members engaged in a pilot group certification initiative. This certification makes the timber much more attractive to sell on international markets.
"Being part of a co-operative has been worth a lot to us, providing a strong voice through the group, doing business in a structured manner, keeping costs to respectable levels and providing us with the capacity to negotiate from a position of strength," says Abraham.