Rising timber prices bode well for farm forest owners

Rising timber prices in recent weeks bode well for forest owners, according to chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Farm Forestry Committee, Pat Collins.

In order to make the most of these rising timber prices, Collins is encouraging farmers with plantations over 14 years old to start to plan and prepare to thin their forest and make the most of the rising timber prices.

“The economic recovery across western Europe has led to a growing demand for sawn timber.

The increasing demand to construct homes using timber-frame techniques, and the scarce availability of wood on the world market, has led to increasing timber prices.

According to the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI February 2018 report, pallet timber prices have risen for the nineteenth consecutive month. While the UK Poyry timber index reports a near 35% cumulative increase on some grades since the first quarter in 2016.

However, Collins outlined that the prices being paid to farmers for pallet wood in Ireland have remained relatively static in the same period.

He said price increases must be passed onto farmers; he also stressed the need for farmers to familiarise themselves with the market prior to selling timber, to ensure they are being paid a fair price for their product.

Continuing, he said: “The availability of pallet timber is likely to be the most significant feature of the timber market in 2018.

There is increased competition for pallet and small saw logs that is creating additional pressure on timber availability.

“As biomass demand grows, increasing volumes of small saw logs – small diameter logs traditionally used in pallet timber production – are being diverted to the biomass sector.”

In conclusion, Collins explained that it is a good time to be a forest owner.

He encouraged all farmers who have a forest with trees approaching 10m in height to cut inspection paths, so the forest can be assessed. Collins also advised those farmers that they can start to prepare to harvest by applying for a felling licence and forest road grant.