Broadleaf thinning grant welcomed by IFA forestry chair

The grant introduction of up to €500/ha to support farmers to undertake second thinning operations in broadleaf forests, under the Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS), has been welcomed by the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) farm forestry chairman, Vincent Nally.

Commenting on the recent development, Nally said: “Many farmers have delayed thinning operations following the department’s announcement late last February that an additional grant would be introduced.”

He explained that the delay in introducing the grant had left many farmers with limited time to get operations completed this winter, as the preferred time for thinning operations in broadleaf forests is from autumn to early spring when the sap is down.

Continuing, Nally said: “The Department must work with farmers that have delayed operations pending the introduction of the grant to get applications fast tracked through the system.

Thinning operations are essential in broadleaf forests to focus growth on the best quality and more vigorous stems and provide the growing space for these trees.

“Thinning for quality is greatly assisted if Potential Crop Trees (PCTs) are permanently marked early on, by painted bands or spots.

“From a commercial viewpoint the most important part of the tree is the lower section of the stem; this is the portion of the tree that yields the greatest financial return,” said Nally.

He concluded by stressing the importance of safety in all forestry operations but particularly in tree felling.

He concluded by stressing that forestry owners must ensure that all workers have adequate insurance, certified training and that suitable personal protection equipment is worn at all times.