National Farm Forestry Chairman, Pat Collins has updated farmers that a second thinning grant of €500/ha is now available under the Woodland Improvement Scheme to support farmers to undertake essential management.
He said, “Thinning and tending are essential operations to improve individual stem quality and the overall quality of the forest.
“From a commercial point of view, the most important part of any tree is the lower section of the stem; that is why timely management of the crop is so important to improve its value”.
He said that the tending and thinning grant under the Woodland Improvement scheme was previous only available to grant-aided broadleaf forests planted since 1980, but has been extended to non-grant aided broadleaf forests and all broadleaved mixture forests that meet requirements.
The Woodland Improvement Scheme provides a fixed grant of €750/ha for first thinning and a new €500/ha grant for second thinning.
The variability of stem growth and quality is higher in broadleaves, therefore management is very different than for conifers, Pat Collins said.
He recommended that farmers take the time to select and mark the final crop trees known as Potential Crops Trees (PCTs) in their plantations. Then future management can focus on the stems with good form and vigour as well as reducing the competition around PCTs.
Mr Collins concluded by saying, “There is a strong demand for hardwood thinnings in the Irish firewood market.
The market has grown by over 61% in the last decade to 237,000m3 in 2016.”