One of Ireland’s premier tree management specialists

7 Aug , 2015  

Celebrating 20 years in existence this year, North West Forest Services Ltd. provides an unrivalled forest and tree management service in the North West and beyond. We travelled to the company’s Ballybofey base and met up with director Stephen Doherty to take a look at the history and current well-being of the progressive, multifaceted operation, which is currently experiencing growth and actively recruiting new staff.

North West Forest Services Ltd. specialises in forest and tree management, including dangerous tree removal, site clearance, tree felling and surgery, scrub and brush clearance and spraying, forestry consultancy, planting and much more.

Boasting over 30 years’ experience of tree care, the family-run operation is ideally placed at Knock, Ballybofey, County Donegal to assist clients from counties Donegal, Derry, Sligo, Leitrim and beyond with all their forestry requirements. North West Forest Services counts the likes of the ESB, NIE (Northern Ireland Electricity) and Coillte amongst its extensive client list, which includes private, commercial and public customers. No job is too large or too small and free estimates are provided for all work.

NPTC-certified training and education has become another key area of expertise, with North West Forest Services providing professional accredited training to those in the forestry, estate management and public sectors. Qualifications in arboriculture, forest management and safety enable those who sit the courses to have a career in this sector.

Some of the courses currently offered include (but are by no means limited to!): Identification of Invasive Species; FETAC Operating Horticultural Machinery; Pesticide Courses; Manual Handling, Woodchipper Operation; Strimmer and Lawnmower Go4 Skills; First Aid; CS30 &CS31 Chainsaw Courses; and a one-day Chainsaw Course.

All chainsaw courses and chainsaw training is carried out by a fully-qualified and accredited in-house team of training instructors and assessors, who have vast hands-on experience of all aspects of chainsaw operations and horticulture. The courses are both FETAC and City & Guilds accredited.

Reflecting on the genesis of the family business, Stephen Doherty reveals: “My father Sean set the company up on April 1st, 1994. He used to work for Coillte years ago but then left and went out on his own in the early 1990s, before setting up North West Forest Services.

“He would have started off originally doing contracts with Coillte with planting sites, fertiliser sites and fencing. We would have had a group of men with us at the time and the grant money was good. We then started to do cutting, felling and thinning for our customers, covering the Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim area.

“We did that more or less up until 1998, when we started to look at working for the ESB, cutting trees back from power lines, still in the same catchment area. As the grants died off, we moved more and more into the cutting side of things. The ESB were tendering the work out and as more opportunities opened up we started to recruit more men.

“Cutting became our core activity and we moved away from planting and forestry from 1998 onwards. Our mainstay then was ESB Contracts and we’re still involved in that today. Also, around about ’04, my father saw opportunities opening up in the training market and he became involved in that as well.”

Stephen had come home from England in 2001, as a fully-qualified forester with a national diploma from Newton Rigg sticking out of his back pocket.
At the time of writing, North West Forest Services was in the process of becoming one of a select few privately-owned NPTC assessment centre in Ireland. It is also one of only two contractors cutting for NIE. As specialist utility arborists, the majority of their work is for the ESB, NIE and the OPW. In addition to their own courses, they also run courses for Donegal County Council and VTEC.

Regarding the current status of the operation, Stephen continues: “Timber cutting is still very much our mainstay and we currently have 16 full-time utility arborists on our books. We have just taken on two men and we are actively seeking new employees with CS30, 31, 38 and 39 as well as experience on the power lines if possible. We employ a total of 20 and that will increase. The cutting side of the business is growing and the training is growing too, so all in all we are ticking over nicely.

“All of our staff are fully trained and independently assessed to ensure a professional service at all times.”

As word of NWFS’ exceptional tree care service spreads, their influence is spreading across the island. “We work for NIE all over Northern Ireland and we’ve also worked in many counties in the Republic,” Stephen concludes. “We also respond to storm damage calls if required and we were down in Limerick for a solid week earlier this year during the storm damage.”

Since its inception two decades ago, North West Forest Services has forged a stellar reputation in its specialist field of tree management and training and, as the second generation of the Doherty family assumes the helm, the signs are extremely encouraging that the future is bright for this wide-ranging far-reaching, all-embracing County Donegal company.

North West Forest Services Ltd.
County Donegal.
Phone: 074 9132033
Mobile: 087 2507383
Fax: 074 9132033
Email: [email protected]

Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 2 No 7, December 2014