Thinning is best described as the selective removal of inferior stems in order to favour the growth of the remainder better quality stems. It is a normal and essential part of most forest crop rotations, and is essential if crops are to produce the maximum number of high value logs and consequently increase profitability.  Thinning is generally undertaken 2 to 5 times over a forest rotation depending on the productivity of the crop.

SWS Forestry Thinning Process;

1. Site inspection

Inspection paths are essential to carry out a professional assessment for thinning purposes. Assessment will include quality, stability, quantity, stocking etc. A harvesting plan and time line, that will ensure your site is thinned to best forestry practice, will be put in place.

2. Felling License Procurement

It is a legal requirement to secure a felling license before any felling of trees can take place. There are two types of felling license, a general felling license (GFL) which is required for thinning a plantation and a limited felling license which is required when you are clearfelling your plantation. SWS Forestry will apply for the relevant felling license on your behalf according to the stage that your plantation is at.

3. Road grant Applications and construction

Once a site inspection is conducted and a felling license has been applied for, an application can be sent to the forest service in order to obtain grant aid to construct a road. Once approval has been obtained SWS Forestry will construct the forest road in your plantation. SWS Forestry has extensive experience in forest road construction.

4. Draw up a harvesting plan

SWS Forestry will draw up a harvesting plan unique to your plantation. SWS Forestry will map the land selected for thinning, outline any environmental / archaeological concerns, and the potential hazards associated with the property. SWS Forestry will present a harvest plan by using maps accompanied by a description of all relevant information.

SWS Forestry’s harvest plan will address the following:

• Legal requirements – eg felling license conditions
• The felling parameters such as intended volume for removal, tree sizes/stocking etc. and the chosen thinning cycle.
• Timing/weather constraints on operational schedule
• The need for ancillary structures eg brash paths, tracks for use, silt traps etc
• Stacking heights

5. Site Hazard and Risk Assessment

SWS Forestry, as part of the harvest planning process will carry out a site hazard and risk assessment inspection. Findings of these assessments are recorded on the harvest plan potential hazards would include:
• ESB/Gas lines
• Steep banks
• Roadside harvesting
All operations will be carried out to minimize risk of accidents.

6. Thinning Monitoring/Control

SWS Forestry will conduct regular visits to your site to ensure:
•No over thinning is taking place to reduce the risk of wind throw.
•That urea is being applied to stumps of trees immediately after cutting (this is a legal requirement)
•Brash mats are being put in place for forwarder to move around site with minimal site damage

7. Timber Removal Control

SWS Forestry will control the amount of timber removed from the site. From site inspection stage timber measurements would have been recorded and stocking rates would be recorded, from this SWS Forestry can conduct post thinning measurements to establish the volume of timber removed. A docket system will be put in place in order to control and keep record of the volume of timber being removed.

8. Post Thinning Report

SWS Forestry will conduct a post thinning report which will outline
• Repair work required eg drains, roads etc
• Timber removal summary and totals
• Site report and second thinning recommendations

9. Marketing of timber

SWS Forestry will market and get the best price possible for your timber. Timber will be assorted into the following:
• Pulp Wood
• Pallet
• Stake

10. SWS Forestry Thinning Packages

SWS Forestry can organize a thinning package that suits you, the main packages on offer are:

• SWS Forestry will purchase your timber from you at top market rates
• Consultancy Fee Package; SWS Forestry will agree a fee for the different elements outline above and as requested by the land owner e.g. felling license application, road application etc.