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Advice for owners on harvesting storm-damaged woodlands safely

Safety first is the message for forestry owners harvest-ing in storm-damaged woodlands, according to Teagasc, Coillte and the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture.

Teagasc is hosting field events on April 8 in Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny, and on April 16 in Castleisland, Co Kerry, to assist foresters to manage storm-damaged sites. Kilkenny-based Coillte team leader PJ Trait said these demonstrations will visit Coillte forests where an appropriate response plan is in place and windblow clearance work under way.

The talks will also offer advice on safe work planning, harvesting operations and felling licences, the marketing and sale of windblown timber, restocking, insurance and taxation. Teagasc’s Tom Houlihan said: "Forest owners should not rush into decisions, but make a step-by-step plan to minimise risk and maximise the salvage value of the plantation. Most forests, despite being blown, can have considerable timber value."

The storm force 11 winds on February 12 damaged between 5,000 and 7,000 hectares of both Coillte-managed and privately owned forests, mainly in Munster and south Leinster.

Agriculture Minister of State Tom Hayes has visited sites damaged by Storm Darwin in Castleisland, Co Kerry, and Athea, Co Limerick. He said: "I was shocked at the level of damage I saw across the countryside in west Limerick. Some sites appeared to be a real tangled mess and I would urge everyone in the industry to put safety first when attempting to harvest in these areas."

lKilkenny event: contact Michael Somers, Teagasc, 087 1216163; Kerry event: contact Tom Houlihan, Teagasc, 087 6184353;