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Huge Interest in Small Scale Timber Harvesting Options in Kerry

Almost 400 people attended a National Demonstration of Small Scale Harvesting, Extraction and Timber Processing which took place in Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry recently. This annual event, organised by Teagasc, in conjunction with the Forest Service, highlighted the benefits of forest thinning on crop quality and value. The demonstration focused on practical, workable solutions to help optimise the returns for owners of small conifer and broadleaf forests.

While most of the felling and extracting in Irish forestry is carried out by harvesters and forwarders, a minimum volume of timber is required to justify the transport and use of such large and expensive machinery. The demonstration presented a range of other options for owners of small forests to manage and thin their crops. A variety of timber harvesting, extraction and processing contractors shared their expertise with those attending on the day.

Machines on view included tractors with forwarding trailer and mini trailer, excavators with harvesting head and timber grab, quad and a tracked dumper operating a winch system. The fuelwood section of the event included demonstrations of firewood processing, wood chipping and log gasification boilers.

A common feature throughout the day was the importance of safety. A working forest can be a dangerous place and safety in operation is paramount. Arthur Kierans of Teagasc, Ballyhaise College, explained the safe use of chainsaws to visitors as well as the need for training.

Visitors were also shown the difference thinning can make when done correctly. Staff from the Teagasc Forestry Development Department and the Forest Service were on hand to demonstrate the marking of quality trees while removing inferior competitors in the ash woodland.

Speaking at the event, Tom Shanahan, Teagasc Regional Manager expressed his satisfaction at the great level of interest in forest management and thinning, reflected by the large attendance on the day. Tom Houlihan, Teagasc Forestry Development Officer, expressed hope that the day would focus minds on the real opportunities that exist within the private forestry sector at a time when both the demand and price for thinning products continue to be strong. There are an estimated 5,000 hectares of forests due to be thinned in 2011 and achieving this would not only enhance the long-term quality and value of plantations, but could potentially put almost €2.5 million directly into farmers pockets, helping to stimulate much needed employment and local enterprise.

Almost 400 people attended a National Demonstration of Small Scale Harvesting, Extraction
and Timber Processing in Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry on Thursday 9 June last, organised
by Tom Houlihan, Teagasc Forestry Development Officer Kerry (centre of image)