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Teagasc day on forest thinning

To help forest owners make decisions about thinning, Teagasc and the Forest Service will showcase Steps to Thinning and Marketing your Timber next Tuesday in Feakle.
Selling small-sized timber from first thinning is a new venture for many forest owners and the terminology used to sell timber can be slightly off-putting. However, according to Teagasc, in reality, the process is straightforward and a little advice can go a long way.
They ask that those interested in the event assemble at the community centre in Feakle between 11am and 12.30pm on the day and buses will depart to the demonstration site every 20 minutes between those times.
Denis Purcell from Feakle is one of the few forest owners in County Clare who has gone through the process twice. He has just completed his second thinning. In 1988, Dun Purcell, Denis’ father, planted 18 hectares of land with Sitka spruce and his decision has proven to be very successful today.
Teagasc and the Forest Service held a first thinning demonstration in Purcell’s Forest in 2006 and currently, a second thinning is complete and the Purcells are now welcoming back forest owners to assess the progress.
First thinning was carried out in 2005 when the Purcell plantation was 17 years old, when the main products harvested were pulpwood and stake wood.
“Five years ago, many owners were only breaking even or making a small profit from €1 to €5 per tonne standing in the forest from the first thinning. Currently, the value of first thinnings has increased substantially at €7 to €11 per tonne standing in the forest but still owners are reluctant to thin their plantations,” a Teagasc spokesperson said.
Six years ago, when Denis’ forest was ready for thinning, he was in a similar situation but wanted to ensure he maximised the returns from his investment.
“Initially, I was more comfortable getting a forestry consultant to help organise the first thinning. I really saw a huge improvement in the plantation after thinning – it really started to look like a forest. Since then, I have taken a more active role and I decided to manage the second thinning myself. Over the past few years I attended Teagasc training days and I got as much information as possible to make sure I was making the right decision. I am very happy with the result,” he said.
Áine O’Callaghan, forestry development officer with Teagasc, explained that forest owners need to gather as much information as possible about thinning. “Even if you have not completed a first thinning yet, it is still beneficial to see what is down the road in terms of the products your forest will produce in a first or second thinning.
“The amount of pulpwood produced during a second thinning will decrease as the trees have expanded in size and more pallet wood should be produced. Palletwood is a more valuable category of timber and as a forest owner, it is important to be able to assess your trees and know what products will be harvested from your forest,” she said.
Meanwhile, Denis said if he was to give other forest owners one word of advice it would be “to get a basic knowledge about thinning”.
“A lot of forest owners fear they are going to get ripped off, even if someone is doing the work for you. Once you understand things, the confidence grows. The next time a leaflet comes in about a course, don’t put it into the back of the press, go and see what you need to know.
“There are plenty of resources available to us if we use them. I was lucky to sell the second thinning when prices were very strong, that’s where the real money is but you have to do the first thinning first,” he concluded.
The demonstration takes ­approximately two-and-a-half hours and participants are reminded it is an outdoor event so appropriate footwear and raingear should be worn.
All are welcome and the event is free.
Further information is available from Áine O’Callaghan, Teagasc, Mellows Centre, Athenry or by calling 087 2197086, alternatively visit www.teagasc.ie/forestry.

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