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Strong Interest in Small-Scale Solutions for Managing Farm Forests

The recent ‘National Forestry Demonstration of Small-Scale Harvesting and Extraction Options’ attracted an attendance of over 400 to the event. Many of the visitors were small farm forest owners seeking practical and workable solutions to managing, thinning and improving their small farm forests.

Most of the felling and extracting in Irish forestry is done by harvesters and forwarders. However, the machinery involved is large and expensive and a large volume of timber is required to justify using/transporting such machinery. The purpose of the demonstration was to investigate the options available to small forest owners to manage and thin their forests. The visiting contractors at the event shared both their experience and expertise in small scale harvesting methods with the growers.

The advantages and disadvantages of timber trailers of varying sizes and capacity were evaluated as well as the presentation of timber for loading, handling brash, and harvesting and extracting costs.

Alternative methods of extracting timber were highlighted at the demonstration, with both the real horse and the iron horse showing their environmental credentials through their low impact on forest soils. Quads, mini forwarders and tractors of varying shapes and sizes were demonstrated and evaluated. Basic farm machinery such as the tractor, buck rake and trailer can be put to very good use in a farm forest.

These different harvesting and extracting options can be put to work in both broadleaf and conifer woodlands extracting timber of various assortments; from firewood to stakewood.

Visitors were shown the difference quality thinning can make to a crop. Teagasc’s forestry researchers demonstrated how to mark top quality trees while removing inferior competitors in a broadleaf woodland.

A working forest poses dangers and safety is of paramount importance. Arthur Kierans of Teagasc’s Ballyhaise College demonstrated the correct use of a chainsaw.

For further information on any aspect of forestry production contact your local Teagasc forestry development officer. Contact details and information of this event are all available at www.teagasc.ie/forestry