Western Forestry Co-op has over 30 years’ experience in advising landowners on forestry. CEO Marina Conway talked Irish Tractor & Agri magazine through the multitude of services they provide landowners in western and northern counties.
The Co-op was established in 1985 by the Dairy and livestock Co-operatives in Western Counties in response to a need for support services for landowners considering forestry.
Since that time the Co-op has afforested thousands of acres along the Western seaboard and is the largest and longest established forestry co-operative providing professional forestry services that include forest establishment, forest management planning, harvesting, forest roads and a forest insurance scheme.
The needs of forest owners and the advantages that forestry can provide in rural communities are the foundation of the Co-op. Their team of professional foresters have vast experience in all aspects of forest management and their forestry development advisors are available locally.
Marina Conway has been CEO since 2013. She graduated from UCD with a degree in Agricultural Science (Forestry) in 1996 and Masters in Agricultural Science by Research in 2006.
Upon graduation Marina worked with Western Forestry Co-op for 10 years. After this she worked internationally in Government in New Zealand on forestry in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme.
She has also received qualifications in Environmental Auditing, Training and Water Pollution Control and is a technical member of the Society of Irish Foresters.
“We’re the longest established Forestry Co-op in the country and the Co-op was set up to provide a back-up service to farmers who were looking to go into forestry,” Marina explained. “When the first grants were brought in by the EEC in the 1980s they weren’t being taken up by the farmers who they were intended for. Western Forestry Co-op was formed in a response to this to provide support services to enable and empower farmers and landowners to plant forests on their own land rather than sell it.
“In the early days it was all about education, promotion and marketing forestry as an alternative – the whole ethos of how forestry could compliment farming by providing an additional income that could be invested in other areas of the farm.”
Marina continued: “Today, we cover all aspects of forest management as well as a group insurance scheme since 1989 which we are very proud of. We pride ourselves on giving clients the best available information to assist them in making informed decisions when it comes to forestry.”
Western Forestry Co-op operate a harvest model that has been providing the best return to forest owners in the region. Marina and her experienced team manage all aspects of their clients’ harvest and sell the different timber products to the highest bidder. As a Co-op, their job is to get the best price for the farmer/forest owner whilst also professionally managing the forest operation to ensure the value is in the final crop where the greatest return will be.
As already touched on by Marina, Western Forestry Co-op also administers a low cost group forest insurance scheme for forest owners.
Their forest insurance scheme provides covers for fire, lightning, explosion, storm up to 55 years, replanting costs, fire brigade cover and additional cover for damage to gates, stiles, fences, roads, felled timber etc all at no extra cost to the forest owner and a zero policy excess on a fire claim and a reduced excess of €1,000 on a storm claim.
So why consider Forestry? Just some of the benefits, as outlined by Western Forestry Co-op, includes: Annual Tax Free Premium for 15yrs; Full establishment grant – Costs you Nothing; Retain Full Basic Payment Entitlements; Retain 100% Ownership of Land & Trees; Tax free income on Timber Sales;; Timber is a Secure Pension Plan; Increasing use of renewable fuels – your own sustainable fuel supply; Environmental enhancement through protection of soils, water, climate change mitigation through storing carbon, increases biodiversity and provides shelter
Grants are also available at harvesting stage for Forest Road construction.
“There are good opportunities in the forest sector,” Marina stated when the conversation turned to what the future holds in store for the sector in this country. “Timber volumes are set to double by 2035. There is a huge opportunity for growth in the area of forest harvesting and haulage, forest management, sawmilling, stake production and replanting for the next generation, as forestry is a rural based industry this also provides valuable employment in rural areas. Forests are internationally recognised for their ability to sequester and store carbon which is extremely important in the fight against climate change, especially in an era of both population and agricultural expansion. Forests are also recognised for the environmental benefits they provide from soil and water protection to flood mitigation and biodiversity enhancement..”
What sets Western Forestry Co-op apart from other service providers in the sector is the fact that they listen to the requirements of each client and identify appropriate forestry solutions for their consideration.
Western Forestry are committed to managing forests sustainably; for both the best interests of their client, the environment and the local community.
Western Forestry Co-op Offices
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 3, June/July 2019