Nigel McWilliams, Dromahair, Co. Leitrim.
After contacting Western Forestry Co-Op Colm Gilheaney came to my farm to explain the process of planting and developing the forest. His personality and knowledge of the forestry sector worldwide very much impressed me. He paid regular visits to discuss all matters concerning the project. The planting and fencing was carried out quickly and professionally. I would like to thank Colm and all the staff in Sligo for their warm welcome and refreshments whenever I visited the office.
Basil Henry Grange, Co. Sligo
I farm part time with my son Ross on approximately 75 acres of owned and rented ground in Munninane, Grange Co. Sligo. The land type in this area is very variable ranging from free draining brown earth to higher elevated poor draining podzol type ground. We run a flock of Texel cross commercial ewes alongside a flock of pure bred Texel ewes (Benview Texels) and dry cattle. Our aim here on the farm is to produce high quality livestock which will attract premium prices at specialised mart sales and in the factory.
This was one of the main reasons why we decided to plant the less fertile part of our farm because we were not satisfied with the weight gains been achieved on the higher ground and it was costing us money each year to try and control the weeds and furze on this land parcel.
We now receive our annual forest premium each Spring and claim our Basic Payment (entitlements) on it as well so it is now viewed as a productive part of the farm again and an investment for the future. The whole planting process was straight forward with Western Forestry Co-op taking care of the application process, planting and maintenance on site and the trees seem to be doing a lot better on this ground than my sheep did.
As a forest owner now for 4 years we have found the whole experience very positive to date.
David Doherty, Kilclar, Co. Leitrim.
In Picture - David Doherty and his dog Whiskey with Colm Gilheaney from Western Forestry Co-op.
My name is David Doherty living in Kilclar near Carrick on Shannon county Leitrim.
For some time now my wife Lee and I had been toying with the idea of a woodland on our land. But, could not get away from the commercial aspect of the development.
Ideally I would love to have a mixed broadleaf forest, with large Oak and Beech trees. Unfortunately, I knew that the soil depth and quality on my land in Leitrim meant this wasn’t a viable option.
We enjoy our land and it was important to be a part of this major change therefore we felt a Sitka spruce forest wasn’t for us, due to it needing minimal work and we wanted more diversity from our forest.
Colm from Western Forestry Co-op understood exactly want we wanted to develop and we were delighted with the ideas he was able to put together. His planning, organisation and the way the workforce operated was extremely professional and precise.
We now have a mixed species woodland with plots containing conifer species including Scots pine, Larch and a small amount of Douglas fir and broadleaves including Birch, Alder, Rowan and some Maple.
We would not have decided to get involved with the idea of a woodland without the input and ideas from Colm from Western Forestry Co-op.
Tom King, Hollymount Co. Mayo.
From the start, I found western forestry and Colm Freyne of Western Forestry Co-op very helpful.
I called into his office which is located at the Aurivo Mart in Ballinrobe, enquiring about forestry. I am at the age of which the workload was becoming too much for me and rent prices were not matching what the forestry was giving.
With Colm’s help, I originally intended to plant trees on 42 acres. But Colm advised me to hold onto ten acres so I could still claim my single farm payment, on top of the forestry payments. I did not know about this rule regarding the single farm payment and I found Western Forestry Co-op very helpful/honest in this regard. I then decided to plant 25 acres of Sitka spruce and 5 acres of oak.
Colm drew up a plan and organised the planting for me, he covered all details from start to finish. I am very happy with the work he did, especially the fencing work. Western Forestry Co-op use very high quality, heavy stakes and wire and I expect them to last a lifetime.
Then on top of that, Colm and the lady in the office organised all the folios for my land to ensure all the land was in my name.
Finally, Colm also ensured I received compensation for a gas pipe and ESB cable that were running though my land (due to restrictions, I could not plant in these areas). This was an additional payment I did not realise was available, and gave me more income in the first year.
The best thing about the forestry I feel is that I did not have to do any work bar signing a few forms. Colm was very trustworthy and was out managing the digger, planters and fencers from day one. He has now also sprayed the land to kill off grass competing with the trees.
The entire duration from visiting the office to planting the last tree was about 2 months.
Until this, I had to organise rent money, cut down on stock and try maintain the land. Now the forestry grant money comes in every year without asking any questions, I’m not worried about neighbouring stock coming onto my land or mine going out since the land was fenced.I am very happy with my decision to plant on my land, and extremely happy that I arranged for Western Forestry Co-op to do the job for me.
Bernard Brennan, Sheep Farmer and former Department of Agriculture Inspector, Tubbercurry, Co. Sligo
“I remember reading about the setting up of Western Forestry Co-op and thought it was a very good idea. I like the idea of Co-operatives as they are not for profit and people have a say in the running of the Co-ops not being dictated to from the top. They feel that the Co-op is theirs and that there is continuity with people being replaced if they have to leave or retire. Forestry is a crop that continuity is very important considering the length of time it takes to mature and how it has to be managed during that time.
My first meeting with Western Forestry was in 1994 when we planted our first 40 acres of forestry. In 1994 planting was very unpopular and indeed people told me it was referred to as the grave yard of farming. This has indeed proved not to be the case and since then I have planted more land and am financially very happy with my decisions. Western Forestry Co-op have looked after my planting, inspection Paths, forest road and felling licenses. Most importantly the advice I received from Western Forestry Co-op was invaluable in order to maximise my profit from forestry as my knowledge of forestry was very limited due to the fact that agriculture was my life. Victor Barber covers our area and I have had many dealings with him in the last few years and all very successful.
I joined the Sligo/Leitrim Forest Owners Group in 2011 and am chairperson for the last two years. We invited all the forestry groups to a meeting and asked for quotes for Inspection Paths and other forestry works and every time Western Forestry responded with a very good deal. As a result, we have used Western Forestry and found them to be excellent whether it was Inspection Paths, forest roads, thinning or clearfell. I would have no hesitation in recommending Western Forestry Co-op for any landowner considering forestry or with existing forestry”