Insist on contract before starting
No plantation owner should enter into the sale of timber without a contract.
The Irish Timber Growers Association, the IFA and Teagasc are in the process of collaborating in the preparation of a standardised timber sales contract geared to Irish conditions which is likely to be available by the end of the year.
But in the absence of a standard protocol, private consultants and forestry management companies operate their own. A contract should set out clearly the owner's obligations, as well as those of the purchaser. In addition, the owner must remember that there are a number of legal requirements he must comply with before allowing contractors on site, including obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.
The contract should include such items as the thinning method, systems and procedures to be employed, details of the roundwood to be included in the sale, agreed prices, the amount of deposit and payment schedules, insurance details, commencement and completion dates, and so forth. If the timber is to be sold by weight the contract should provide for haulage to the mill within a specified time.
In most instances, a first thinning will be done using the rack and selection method.
Normally, every seventh row of trees is removed, leaving a rack wide enough for the harvester and forwarder to travel.
Consequently, much of the palletwood -- the higher value material -- will come out of the racks and the selection should concentrate on the smaller, lower-quality stems in order to open up the stand for the benefit of the better trees. It is this aspect that requires control, a degree of supervision and a skilled operator.