Veon, Ireland’s leading forest management company, organised and hosted with the assistance of Coillte , Western Forestry Co-op and the Forest Service, the Society of Irish Foresters’ field day on Friday 8th June in Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo.
Hugh Cawley, Veon’s Director of Operations noted that there was an impressive turnout from SIF members, private foresters, Coillte, Teagasc, Forest Service local inspectors and an ecologist, The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and local IFA members.
The challenges facing this strategically important industry were discussed centring on local authority issues as one of a number of reasons underlying the failure of the current afforestation scheme.
“Most in the audience felt that, despite its enormous potential as a commercial species, there was an over reliance on Sitka spruce” according to Hugh Cawley, “and a recognition of the need to increase afforestation levels through education and promoting non-forestry benefits (Carbon and rural tourism, other non-timber revenues). These non-timber benefits could be utilised strategically as the way forward to increase Broadleaf High Forests planting levels to meet our 30% targets” he added.
The site in Sligo chosen for the Field Day was not suitable for quality broadleaves which underscored the argument that some sites are suitable for broadleaf planting and some are not.
There was overwhelming support for a Forest Service suggestion that planning for entrances should be part of the afforestation process thus enabling forest road construction at that forest planting stage.
On the Coillte site hosted by Ken Sweeney, the discussion centred around NPV and investing in aerial fertilising which Ken maintained was cheaper than manual fertilising but should only be considered with a minimum Yield Class of 12 and approaching canopy closure. Coillte recommend that private forestry owners should consider assessing their properties now for nutritional status. Private foresters can assist owners in carrying out assessments and realise the value of their forests with some much-needed investment. Coillte has invited the Society of Irish Foresters to assess the effects of the works that are being carried out now next year.