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Learning from experience can be very expensive when it comes to timber sales. Years of growth and value are accumulated in a single transaction. Many forest owners are apprehensive about selling timber, as they do not know the value of their timber and do not want to sell too cheaply, or have concerns that future productivity may be damaged as a result of over thinning. While these concerns are valid they can be avoided by careful planning.

Too much is at stake for you to sell your timber without an understanding of the quality and quantity of your timber and the markets. This guide aims to provide private forest owners with information on a few important facts, which along with adherence to good forest management practice, should help forest owners to receive a fair price for your timber and retain a plantation that is in good productive condition. Even if you hire a professional forester to manage the sale of your timber sale it is important that you have some prior understanding of what is involved.

When should I thin?

The following ready reckoner for Sitka spruce is based on estimated yield class (YC) at a top height (metres) at age 10 and approximates the timing of roading and thinning.

Top Height YC Age to plan Forest Road Age to construct  Forest Road  

Age of first thinning


Average yields (m3/ha) from thinnings
2.6 – 2.9 12 22 23 24 35
3.0 – 3.4 14 20 21 22 40
3.5 – 3.8 16 19 20 21 48
3.8 – 4.0 18 18 19 20 54
4.5 – 4.9 20 17 18 19 58
5.0 – 5.4 22 16 17 18 64
5.5 – 6.0 24 15 16 17 70
6.1 – 6.4 26 14 15 16 74
6.5 – 7.0 28 13 14 15 80
7.0 – 7.5 30 12 13 14 88

Source: Irish Farmers Journal 20th June 2015

Felling Licence

Landowners are required under the Forestry Act, 1946, to give notice of intention to fell trees. Under Section 37 of the Forestry Act, 1946, it is illegal:

  • to uproot any tree over ten years old or
  • to cut down any tree of any age (including trees which form part of a hedgerow).

There are two types of Felling Licences. The type of licence required depends on the forest operation being proposed:

  • General Felling License is usually valid for five years and tends to be used for fellings on larger areas and all grant aided plantations. Replanting must take place on the same area that has been clearfelled.
  • Limited Felling License is valid for two years and is mainly used for small fellings. This type of Licence must be used if the applicant is requesting not to replant or if nominating an alternative area to replant.

For more information on completing felling licence applications: Guide to Felling Licence Applications (Teagasc).

IFA’s practical guide to selling timber

Timber selling guide cover

Forest Roads

Proper access to your forest is essential when you are harvesting and will make your forest more attractive to potential buyers.

Harvest roads should ideally be built well in advance of first thinning operation to allow the road to settle and so cope better with the extensive wear and tear of harvesting and timber haulage.

To help facilitate the construction of forest roads a grant is available from the Forest Service under the Forest Road Scheme.

Forest Road Scheme – click here for more info.

Forest Standards & Procedures – click here for more info.

Forest Roads Manual – click here for more info.

Useful documents:

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