Minister Tom Hayes has welcomed the progress the ‘Windblow Taskforce’ is making on gathering information about the extent of the forest damage caused by recent storms and praised the comprehensive Guidance Note that the group has produced.
“I fully understand the shock and anguish experienced by forest owners whose forests have been blown over by the recent storm. This guidance note gives reassurance to forest owners that all is not lost and that fallen trees still have value. The document also lays down the steps to consider in safely harvesting and selling the fallen trees and gives advice on a range of other associated issues”.
Early indications suggest that less than 1% of the forest area and approx 1% of the forest volume has blown down, somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 hectares mainly concentrated in Munster.
The Minister added that “Teagasc forestry advisers will meet any forest owner in the Teagasc Offices for a one-to-one meeting to discuss this and any other forestry matter. I would also strongly urge forest owners to get professional advice from qualified foresters to guide them through this process”. Speaking about the role of the sawmills following this damage, the Minister commented that “Ireland has an export-focussed, world class sawmill and panel board sector. This sector has ample capacity currently to process the blown material over the next eight to 10 months”.
The Windblow Taskforce chaired by Minister Hayes comprises the IFFPA, Coillte, IFA, ITGA and the Forest Service, DAFM. The aim of the group is to assess the damage nationally and to quickly identify the various issues that have arisen and that will arise as a result of the severe windblow event of February 12, and to agree on a course of actions to deal with these issues.