Dealing with storm damage
If you experienced windblow damage to your forest, don’t rush into decisions but instead put together a step-by-step plan. This will allow you to minimise risks while maximising the salvage value of the blown timber. Steven Meyen, Teagasc Forestry Development Officer has advice on what you can do
Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have caused a lot of damage around the country, including damage to forests.
If you experienced windblow damage to your forest, don’t rush into decisions but instead put together a step-by-step plan. This will allow you to minimise risks while maximising the salvage value of the blown timber.
Most forests, despite being blown, can have considerable timber value.
A windblown forest is a dangerous place. That is why windblown trees should only be dealt with by fully trained and accredited operators. This work becomes even more hazardous where road safety and electricity supply lines are involved.
Always follow the Health and Safety Authority's guidelines very carefully. All parties involved (including forest owners) have legal obligations. See www.teagasc.ie/forestsafety for detailed and relevant advice.
Are you insured?
Although Brexit has led to much higher insurance premiums here in Ireland, it is still very worthwhile to have comprehensive forest insurance in place. If you're insured for windblow, then contact your insurance company immediately. The insurance company will assign an assessor to assess the damage.
Get independent advice. Your local forestry adviser, your forestry consultant and taxation expert will be able to provide expert advice and support.
Get the facts
It is important to understand the extent of the damage: assess the area, timber volume and likely value of the windblow in your forest.
You also need to assess the adjacent area that has not blown. Dependent on factors such as age, area and risk of windblow, you need to decide whether or not it is best to retain the adjoining area and to allow it to grow on to normal harvesting age, or to harvest this area together with the area that has suffered windblow.
Most plantations are unlikely to be entirely blown. Where a forest is partially windblown, it is important that a forestry professional assesses the remaining standing trees for stability. Where the forester deems that such trees are unstable, these should be included in the felling licence application.
Apply for a Felling Licence
A Felling Licence will be required to harvest the windblown timber and potentially any adjacent trees that may be at risk of windblow. If there is an existing licence in place, you need to specify the licence number in your new felling licence application. This will allow the DAFM to cancel the existing licence as the same land cannot have two licences.
Apply as soon as possible as the licencing process will take a long time.
Access to the forest and specifically the windblown area must be considered carefully. Check if you would be eligible for a roading grant from the DAFM. Applications are made through a forestry consultant. This application can be made together with the felling licence application.
Selling your timber
Make sure that you have a suitable timber sales contract in place to protect your interests and to ensure compliance with a range of requirements. The contract needs to stipulate agreed timber prices, duration of contract, indemnity, insurance, arbitration provisions, felling licence conditions, agreed harvesting procedures, environmental obligations, health and safety regulations, relevant maps and schedules and so on.
Also ensure that you can control the movement of timber from your site ensuring security and accountability in timber sales.
Closing off the sale and good record keeping is important for accounting and tax, health and safety regulations, various environmental and other obligations. Make sure all timber is accounted for, paid for and that proper records are maintained.
Supervision and monitoring of the sale and harvesting operations is key to ensure the timber sales takes place in your best interest.
Don’t rely on others to do your job.
For further information, contact your local Teagasc Forestry Adviser or local Teagasc Office.
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