1. Forest Plantation inspections
The management of post-grant stage plantations i.e. plantations over 5 years old is more important than one might expect. It has always made sense to have your plantation checked a couple of times annually after the maintenance grant has been paid, and your contract with the establishment company has finished. It especially makes sense to those of you who have planted larger areas, where you have made a big investment of your land by choosing forestry.
There is however an even more compelling reason to have your post-grant stage plantation managed. Right now the Forest Service are spot checking 10% of all these plantations annually. It is generally accepted that this check rate will be increased as more pressure is applied by EU auditors. Where a spot check reveals problems on a particular site, the owner is given a period to take remedial action. If remedial action is not taken his or her premiums will be stopped.
As things stand now, failure to maintain fences, control furze/scrub, or damage from stock will lead to penalties being applied resulting in 20% cuts to premiums. Kestrel are specialists in this area with access to the best contractors and utilizing our relationship with the Forest Service to advocate on your behalf. For an annual fee you will receive two inspections annually plus an annual progress report. If your plantation is in need of remedial works you will be notified immediately. If required we will recommend and organise the labour and materials for these operations, and certify them for payment by you - all this as part of your unique Kestrel Plantation Management Package.
2. Forest Road Services
Most plantations will need a forest road constructed at some point to enable access for big harvesting machinery and more important to allow timber trucks to access the forest and haul logs to the mills or buyers. The Forest Service will grant-aid a new forest road once approved by them at a rate of €45 per linear metre to a maximum of 25 metres per hectare. So a 10.0 hectare crop will qualify for 250 metres of road but that will include any turning areas and a bellmouth entrance at the public road which for example will absorb 30 metres of the total allowance. Planning permission from the relevant local authority will be required where a new entrance has to be created onto a public road, and may still be required depending on the quality of the existing entrance.
To qualify for the forest road grant 50% of the plantation must be fit for thinning within three years. The grant is then paid in two instalments - 90% after completion of the road, and 10% after the first thinning has been completed. Owners can construct an additional length of road at their own cost but the additional non-grant aided section must be approved by the Forest Service as well
Registered forestry consultants can submit and certify road lenghts up to 500m, but a qualified engineer or will be required for forest roads in excess of 500m. Kestrel have access to experienced engineers/surveyors and in many cases we recommend that their expertise be utilised even where the length of road is less than 500m.
3.Pruning and Shaping Operations
All broadleaf crops are expected to have been shaped before Maintenance Grant stage where appropriate. Forks and side branches which have a diameter in excess of 50% of the main stem should be removed taking care to retain at least 30% live crown.
In good quality high Yield Class conifer crops the High Pruning of 400 trees per hectare approximately should be considered as a means of adding value to the crop. Ideally this should be carried out post-first thinning and the 4oo final crop trees will need to be marked with a ring of paint to highlight their status and to prevent them being felled in subsequent thinnings. Both these operations require a degree of skill and technical know how and in many cases the owner can carry out these operations themselves with some guidance initially, we can supply guidance and/or experienced contractors where required.
4. Plantation Valuations, Sales and Purchases
If you are planning to sell or buy an existing plantation Kestrel will provide you with a realistic valuation following a site survey. Remember most auctioneers and estate agents are inexperienced when it comes to valuing forestry plantations. So it makes sense to hire an experienced forestry consultant to undertake a proper valuation. In addition. If you have a plantation to sell or you wish to purchase a plantation Kestrel can source buyers and sellers and also give you a report on the state of any plantation that you might be interested in.
5. Land Sourcing/Surveying for Investors
If you're considering the purchase of new land for planting and are unsure as to where you should buy, what type of land to buy, and how much you should pay then Kestrel can provide you with a land sourcing service. If you have already sourced a parcel of land and you want to make sure that a) it is suitable for forestry and b) that there are no potential environmental restrictions to acquiring an approval from the Forest Service, then contact Kestrel to carry out a site survey/evaluation.
6. Liaising/Consulting with Forest Service
If you're having problems with the payment of your premiums or even grants, for example shaping grants, or indeed any other issues, Kestrel will take up your case with the Forest Service and try to sort out the problem on your behalf.
7. Year 10 to Year 20 Management Plans
The above plans are now required for all ten year old conifer plantations > 10.0 ha., and all ten year broadleaf plantations greater > 5.0 ha. The Forest Service have stated that Year 11 premiums will not be paid until these plans are submitted and accepted. So if you are in the above category/s you should have received your notification by now and will need to act on it. Contact Kestrel straight away to have your plan completed.
8. Contractor Sourcing
Depending on the time of the year and how well other industires are doing, it can be very difficult to source any type of forestry contractor, and especially difficult to obtain first class contractors. Kestrel usually have access to dedicated, trained and insured contractors who will carry out a range of operations including chemical and manual cleaning, shaping, filling- in (replacing trees) and furze control to the highest standards. In addition, for new plantations, Kestrel will recommend only fencing and machine contractors who have a proven track record in forestry, and who have a proven safety and work quality record.
9. Water Sampling
In certain parts of the country for example East Wicklow an afforestation approval application on a site with a water course i.e. stream or river has to be accompanied with the results of four water samples have to taken in February, March, April and May to assess the site for acid sensitivity or alkalinity. No approval will be issued unless these samples have been collected by a registered forester and brought to an approved laboratory for analysis. Depending on the results an approval will be issued or not but the process must be carried out as stipulated by the Forest Service. Kestrel will provide an efficient water sampling service to accompany your afforestation approval application.
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