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Getting the most from your forest


Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in timber harvests and as forests approach harvesting stage, a range of queries arise for owners in relation to optimising returns from their forests.

Owners are encouraged to plan in advance, become familiar with their plantations and seek advice in order to make sound management decisions.

As plantations approach harvesting stage, key issues should be addressed before trees can be cut.

Also, a felling licence, granted by the Forest Service, is required prior to harvesting.

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In order to improve access for timber vehicles, it may be necessary to build a loading bay, forest road or to upgrade an existing road.

Grant aid may be available towards the construction costs. Planning permission is currently required for new forest road entrances.

Marketing the timber

Timber should always be put on the market before harvest to ensure that the timber is cut to the category or product required by the market.

It is best to notify timber buyers well in advance of upcoming timber sales - this will give them the opportunity to inspect the plantation, assess timber quality, consider harvesting options and quote prices.

The sale of timber may require some tax issues to be addressed including PRSI, Universal Social Charge and VAT. Professional tax advice is worthwhile.

Tips for Smart Selling

  • Consider harvesting in co-operation with your neighbouring forest owners.
  • Use of local markets can minimise haulage costs.
  • Harvesting operations should be professionally planned and supervised.
  • Employ a reputable and experienced harvesting contractor with appropriate references.
  • Sign a robust timber sales contract including: timber sales by volume or weight, price per product or overall price, schedule of payments, timelines for timber removal, public liability insurance, liability for damage to roads and drains as well as recording of timber loads leaving the forest.

In order to address issues such as these, Teagasc, in conjunction with the Forest Service and IFFPA (the Irish Forest and Forest Products Association) are holding a Timber Marketing event in the Rose Hotel, Tralee on September 16. The event will provide a great forum for forest owners to network with other owners, forest managers, harvesting contractors and timber buyers. It will also provide the opportunity for forest owners to familiarise themselves with key issues around harvesting options, available markets and their requirements, tax issues and timber price trends.

For details and updates on this and other events and a range of harvesting and timber marketing information see or contact Tom Houlihan, Teagasc Forestry Advisor, Killarney, on 087-6184353.