24 October 2017
By Elaine Murphy
A hardwood marketing event organised by the Teagasc Forestry Development Department took place at the Firgrove Hotel, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, today.
Proceedings were opened by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle T.D., followed by a demonstration of a Peterson portable sawmill. A series of short presentations were given, including the harvesting experiences of a private forest owner, Teagasc advice on broadleaf management, and the views of industry players on the management, harvesting and requirements of hardwoods. Participants also availed of the opportunity to view quality Irish hardwood products.
Dr Nuala Ni Fhlatharta, Head of the Teagasc Forestry Development Department said, “In contrast to the conifer timber resource, almost 63% of the broadleaf resource is in private ownership. Many new broadleaf woodland have been planted in Ireland since the early 1990s, with grant aid support.”
John Casey, Forestry Advisor with Teagasc and organiser of the ‘Talking Hardwoods’ event added; “Many of these crops are now approaching first and second thinning stages. It was therefore timely for Teagasc to organise an event bringing together broadleaf growers and users of hardwood timber stimulating the development of this fledgling hardwood market in Ireland.”
Ailbhe Gerrard of Brookfield Farm, a private forest owner, felt that quality should be one of the key objectives in broadleaf management, with the aim to produce valuable hardwood timber at both the intermediate and mature crop stages.
Dr Ian Short, Forestry Researcher with Teagasc would concur that when growing broadleaf trees, appropriate management results in the production of quality timber and increased crop value. Extensive research by Teagasc and others has developed appropriate silvicultural techniques, including formative shaping, high pruning, marking of the potential crop trees, and thinning at the correct stage and intensity.
Mark Twomey of the Forest Service DAFM, notes that 3 million m3 of broadleaf harvest volume is forecast to come on-stream in the period 2016-2035, made up of both thinning & mature harvests, with the average annual harvest volume ranging from 80,000 m3 to 243,000 m3 as production fluctuates. Luke Middleton, Forest Service, reiterated that the felling of trees within a forest requires a licence under the Forestry Act 2014. However, some trees outside of the forest are exempt, such as hedgerow trees growing within 10m of a public road.
As crops develop through further thinning, it is envisaged that some of the logs from the removed trees will be suitable for higher value end uses. Both Mark Donnelly, sawmiller, and Dermot O’Donovan of GMIT Letterfrack, felt that there are great opportunities to add value to small-diameter timber in fields of innovation and design, in addition the potential of well managed large diameter broadleaf timber. There were ample networking opportunities with organisations, users, contractors and timber buyers who had stands at the Teagasc event.