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Is your Forest ready for Thinning?

A nationwide series of Farm Forest Thinning Events are taking place beginning on Monday next, 21 February. These events which include forestry courses, field days, and forestry walks are organised by the Teagasc Forestry Development Department in association with the Forest Service.

Events include timber measurement courses for farm forest owners which will introduce the concepts of thinning and demonstrate basic timber measurement techniques in the forest. Forest owners can improve their knowledge and competence to assess their plantation’s readiness for first thinning. These courses are a great opportunity to acquire the know-how to get the job done.

At the field days, experts from Teagasc and the Forest Service will outline why thinning revenues vary widely and why it is essential to plan at least two years in advance of thinning.

Dr. Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, Head of Teagasc’s Forestry Development Department said: "Timber prices have risen sharply in 2010 driven by sawmill capacity, increased exports by timber processors and growing demand from energy and other markets. This has provided a very welcome financial boost to forest owners who had made the decision to thin and, crucially, had the essential preparations in place. Even though prices have come back somewhat in recent months, potential thinning revenue of €200 - €600 per hectare in fully stocked forests is still achievable."

John Casey, Forestry Development Officer with Teagasc, has organised a number of Timber Measurement Courses in Co. Cork. He said: "It is difficult to predict timber prices into the future as timber is globally traded and prices are subject to many factors. However, timber prices are cyclical in nature and there has been a strong upward trend over the last 20 years. Forests have a distinct advantage over other farm crops in that there is flexibility in the final harvest date. This flexibility only applies to forest crops that have been first thinned at the appropriate time, helping to minimise the risks of instability or wind damage. As the forest reaches maturity, owners can keep a close eye on the market and choose to harvest when timber prices are strong. Sound forest management will therefore be well rewarded in the future. That’s why I would urge farmers to attend one of these courses or events to acquire the know-how."

These forestry events are taking place as part of the Adult Learners' Festival 2011, which is a nationwide celebration of adult learning coordinated by AONTAS, the National Adult Learning Organisation. The festival is taking place from 21 – 25 February.

Further information and contact details of your local Forestry Development Officer can be found on Forestry.