Major returns for mature forestry make trees very

The forestry option continues to be highly attractive for farmers and landowners.

While many will be aware of generous grants and the 20-year premium package, owners of forestry at thinning stage continue to experience attractive prices for timber sales. There is also a growing realisation among owners of the major financial returns for mature forestry. Teagasc Forestry Development Officers can assist you when considering a forest enterprise.

Farmers are in the lucky position of being able to invest some land in forestry without any start-up cost, with grants covering the full cost of establishment, and annual tax-free premia for 20 years, according to the Teagasc forestry development section. The annual payment is €427 (for forestry on enclosed land, established under the Afforestation Scheme).

The premium income in the early years is followed by regular income from forest thinnings. Cumulative income for a well-managed, 12-hectare forest of mainly Sitka spruce, on reasonably fertile, marginal land is projected at €377,000 for a 39-year rotation. In today’s money (net present value), this equates to an indicative return on investment of €104,000. The forestry option establishes a valuable low-risk asset on the farm, and can complement other farming activities.

Tending and thinning are essential operations in broadleaf crops in order to provide growing space for the future crop trees. Timing is critical, especially if broadleaves have been planted with nurse species such as larch and Scots pine. It is vital that the first intervention to remove less favoured, competing trees is made at the appropriate time. Thinning your plantation is an essential investment for the future of your broadleaf crop.

Forest owners are showing increased interest in managing their own forests. Although large-scale harvesting and extraction forestry machines have an important role to play in Irish forestry, many of our forests are too small for such large machinery.

Other options have to be considered, particularly (but not exclusively) on broadleaf sites.

If forest owners wish to manage their own forest, they need to arm themselves with the know-how before any harvesting commences, and this will be the topic of a Teagasc/Forest Service national demonstration of tending and thinning in broadleaf woodlands and small-scale timber extraction on Wednesday, October 10, at Dunnamaggin, near Callan in Co Kilkenny.

The demonstration will start at 11am.

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