Weather hinders forest damage survey

Ken Whelan

Attempts to calculate the precise damage caused to our forests by the winter storms are being hindered by the weather.

Initial estimates suggested that between 5,000ha and 7,000ha of woodland were blown down by the January and February storms but to establish the precise damage, forestry companies have to undertake aerial surveys of the affected plantations.

However, due to low cloud and misty weather conditions for the past number of weeks, firms have been unable to get their planes in the air to complete these surveys.

"One badly affected company in the south only managed to get one plane in the air last week, so it is going to be a few more weeks yet before we have a complete picture of the amount of damage done," Donal Whelan of the Irish Timber Growers Association told Farming Independent this week.


The storms caused extensive damage to our forests, with plantations along the western seaboard worst affected.

While much of this wood can be salvaged, it will be the summer before all of the fallen tress can be harvested.

And even this summer deadline may not be met because the available harvesting machinery will have to be split between contracted work for the normal timber harvest and the surplus of felled wood caused by the storms.

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The storms blew down and estimated 1pc of our forestry but this area is equal to half of normal annual timber harvest.

Timber prices are robust at the moment but plantation owners are worried about how the markets will react to the likely surplus of timber which will become available later this year.

Meanwhile, Tom Hayes, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, confirmed the terms and conditions of the current Forest Road Scheme will continue to apply to applications financially approved up to end of June, with the deadline for applications under the current scheme being Monday, March 31.

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