Covering mainly north Tipperary and Limerick, Sean Ryan of Nenagh has been involved in all aspects of forestry for the past 20 years and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience in that time plus an enviable reputation as a contractor you can trust when it comes to meeting those all-important deadlines.
Forestry in Ireland has a history which stretches back almost 100 years.
The forests of Ireland are very diverse, ranging from commercial plantations to native woodlands, to trees and woods in and around our towns and cities. The range of benefits from Ireland’s forest cover is also diverse, extending beyond basic timber production to encompass employment, bio-diversity, wildlife conservation, environmental protection, rural development, carbon sequestration, amenity and recreation and tourism.
Today the forestry sector employs 12,000 people and every year it contributes €2.3 billion euro to the Irish economy.
Ireland has an ideal climate for forestry with one of the fastest growth rates of trees in Europe helping to reduce climate change effects and the industry has the potential to double in size over the next 10 years.
Helping to deliver on the growth are contractors such as Sean Ryan of Nenagh, Co Tipperary who specialises in forestry contracting, timber harvesting, thinning/clearfells, ground preparation and aforestation and reforestation.
Sean is celebrating 20 years in business this year and he is optimistic about what the future holds in store for the sector. In 2016, Coillte planted over 17 million trees creating around 7,700 hectares of new forest all across Ireland.
“I started out in 1998 after buying an excavator when I left school as a 19-year-old,” he recalled in conversation with Irish Tractor & Agri.
“Initially, I worked with Coillte on reforestation of new ground and I’m still with them. I then started mounding for private companies and, as time progressed, I diversified into forestry roads. Timber harvesting is an area of work that has grown significantly in the last five years.”
A one-man operation, Sean employs the services of sub-contractors as and when required. In addition, he has a wide range of machines at his disposal which enables him to carry out his services quickly and efficiently.
“I have two Hyundai Excavators and a Komatsu 901 timber harvester,” he revealed. “Also, Noel Kelly who does a lot of sub-contract work for me has a timber track forwarder. I try to keep machines all owner driven because, that way, everyone looks after their own machine.”
Sean’s business philosophy is a simple, but effective one. At all times, his aim is to go about his business in the most efficient and profitable way possible. His vast knowledge, expertise and state of the art machinery provides him with the ability to fulfil his client demands, no matter how large they may be.
“I always strive to look after my customers and do a good job because it goes without saying that repeat business is very important. On the harvesting end of things, I look after the small forest owner as much as the big man.”
He is glad to report that his services are very much in demand at this point in time.
“It’s a business that is growing all the time due to the fact that there were a lot of plantations 14 to 15 years ago,” he said. “They are coming to the thinning stage now and you could say that the wheel has turned full circle because I would have been mounding back then. There is a lot of positivity within the sector at the moment.”
That is not to say that all is rosy in the garden, however. There are issues that are causing concern for Sean and others who make their living in the forestry sector.
“Getting good machine operators is a challenge,” he stated. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot of young people coming into the industry at a machine operator level. The Hen Harrier issue is also something that needs to be addressed at a higher level.”
The positives outweigh the negatives as far as Sean is concerned: “I’d be very optimistic about the future without a doubt. It’s a growing industry, we’re still planting 5,000 to 6,000 hectares per year. The Government need to keep planting programmes strong and healthy but we are all in it for the long haul.”
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Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 6 No 3, May 2018