The suitability of the private forest estate in Ireland for thinning.

  • Áine Ní Dhubháin School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Ireland.
  • Karl Maguire Private forestry consultant, Co Cavan, Ireland.
  • Niall Farrelly Forestry researcher, Teagasc, Athenry, Ireland.
Keywords: Thinning intentions, non-industrial private forest owners, access, windthrow risk, silvicultural suitability.


Government projections for timber supply from Irish forests assume that private forests will be managed and harvested in a similar way to State forests. However, little is know about the harvesting intentions of private forest owners and the suitability of their stands for thinning. A survey of a sample of 120 forest owners and their forests, stratified by afforestation grant scheme, was carried out in 2007. The average size of plantation was 8.8 ha, with plantations established under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Scheme more likely to have a lower risk of windthrow and to be on sites with better ground conditions than those established under the Western Package (WP) Scheme. Almost three-quarters of the WP forest area was adjacent to a public road, while just over half of the CAP area was similarly situated resulting in higher road density requirements in the CAP area. Almost three-quarters (72%) of all forest owners surveyed planned to thin their forests in the future. The suitability of the area they planned to thin was assessed taking account of access, ground conditions and windthrow risk. Only one-half of this area was found to be suitable for thinning with poor ground conditions and/or excessive roading requirements the main constraints. While the self-selected nature of the sample makes it difficult to make inference to the population of private forest owners in Ireland, the results do raise questions as to whether the timber production targets as laid down in Government policy will be achieved.
How to Cite
Ní Dhubháin, Áine, Maguire, K. and Farrelly, N. (2010) “The suitability of the private forest estate in Ireland for thinning.”, Irish Forestry. Available at: (Accessed: 29January2023).