Western Forestry Co-op in association with the Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) were delighted with the excellent turn out (c100 people) and topics discussed on their recent field day to Mohill, County Leitrim on 29th March. Forest owners and timber growers travelled from all over the country including counties Cork, Wexford, Clare, Tipperary etc to see two family owned sawmill and timber processors in action. Crowes sawmill, established in 1907 is the longest established sawmill in Ireland. To start off the field day we visited their recently harvested and reforested site of 25 acres which Mack Crowe planted in 1989, he planted it because all he could grow successfully on it was rushes, it was clearfelled last year and Victor Barber of Western Forestry Co-op who managed the site outlined the reforestation operations undertaken. In particular there was much discussion about the Pine weevil, a small insect which feeds on the bark of young trees, of which Victor discussed the options for managing Pine weevil infestations, it is the biggest threat to trees successfully establishing at reforestation stage and always generates a lot of interest.
Alan Crowe who manages the sawmill gave a tour of the products created and workings of the sawmill. The sawmill’s core business is producing quality sawn timber, fencing, equestrian products and garden furniture. The sawn timber is kiln dried and pressure treated with Osmose Naturewood. Alan brought us through the different products on show that day utilising various Irish grown timbers including Larch, Scots pine, Douglas fir and Sitka spruce. Nothing in the sawmill goes to waste with the bark of the tree sold as mulch to local landscapers.
After lunch we went to another family owned business McCauley Wood fuels which comprises of father and son team Brian and Kenny McCauley. McCauley Wood Fuels produce dried Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) Scheme certified wood fuels including seasoned firewood logs and certified Wood Chip for commercial & domestic biomass boilers. They source their pulpwood material locally which is mostly delivered from local farm forests managed by Western Forestry Co-op. Kenny talked us through the process of woodchip manufacturing including supply, moisture content, processing and transport requirements for the different biomass end users. Kenny outlined how they currently process up to 400 tonnes of biomass per week which, in energy terms, is enough to displace the equivalent of approximately 150,000 litres of home heating oil per week. In the advent of climate change and the change to renewable energy, McCauley Wood Fuels are a Leitrim success story of a family business that adapted to market changes and have built a successful business based on the availability and supply of a local raw material that reduces reliance on imported fossil fuels through the production of a locally produced renewable raw material. It is fair to say that the field day left us all feeling energised and optimistic for the future of the local forest industry.