top of page

John's Diary 2021/22

  • It has been an eventful couple of years in our woodland.  Our Ash plantation was sadly confirmed as having Ash dieback in September 2017.  After a protracted process, we were funded for the removal for the entire crop and replanting.  We concluded site clearance in autumn 2018 and finally received species approval in December 2018.


  • January 2019 arrived with a sense of anticipation for the year ahead, and commenced planting as soon as the frost lifted.  We ordered and collected our plants from a company based in Wicklow (None-so-Hardy).


  • Planting around 80% of Sitka Spruce to make up for the income lost from eight years of Ash growing, and the balance was planted in Wild Cherry and Red Oak.


  • We finally finished planting in February and there was a palpable sense of relief all round.

  • Having taken advice on the whole removal and replanting from our forester, we did the project management and some of the work ourselves.  Although it was difficult at times, we still consider it financially beneficial, along with having a sense of control which we would not have had if we had given the contract to a forestry company.  

  • While we were on holidays in early May 2019, the weeds took advantage of our absence to grow extraordinarily high.  Luckily, we were able to get a very experienced man to spot spray around them.


  • We also had a friend’s son clear around each plant with a hook prior to spraying.  There was no lasting damage, but it was a close call.

  • As we had our felling licence renewed (4 years, unfortunately, not 10 years) we decided to second thin the more mature Sitka Spruce, Alder and Oak sections.  All were planted in 2003 by my late father, Pat Sherlock.  They had been first thinned in 2015.


  • Having decided to go the Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) ProSilva route in forest management, we hired two experienced foresters to mark all the trees that were to come out of our plantation.  This was done to take the decision making out of the harvester operator’s hands, to ensure the choices were in-line with the ProSilva method.

  • The harvesting company representative was concerned when he saw the choices of some trees to be felled, but we had our decision made and were not going to change.  The operation went smoothly enough, but when the harvesting was over, we noticed that no Urea was sprayed on the tree stumps.  We insisted that this was rectified, bearing in mind the distance from watercourses, etc.

  • At the same time, we hired an experienced chainsaw operator, along with his father, to thin and shape our Oak crop which was then 17 years old.  We had taken out the nurse species of Scots Pine in 2015, so it was time to give the remaining Oak a light thinning and shaping.


  • Our Alder had reacted positively to the first thinning, so we gave it a second thinning with the mechanical harvester.  I have yet to be convinced that this crop will achieve any high value as sawlog, however, we will persevere in the short/medium-term.


  • September came, and all the thinnings were removed from the forest.  With our softwoods, we made two grades of pulp wood, along with a grade of pallet wood:

  • Grade one was pure energy small diameter thinning suitable for woodchip only; and 

  • the second larger grade, we kept for our own firewood business.

  • The pallet wood was sold with a small premium, as it was FSC certified wood.

  • The Alder and Oak thinnings will be sold in our firewood business.

  • Also in early September, we finally sold the Ash we had removed from our infected forest.  This went directly for woodchip, as it was too small for firewood.  We had the choice of burying it, but we chose to remove it and stack it to dry.  This left the forest site clean and accessible for replanting.


  • I went for a walk down our woodlands, as I often do, however, on that occasion with great trepidation after storms.

  • Having heard horror stories of trees being blown down after being thinned using the ProSilva method, which leaves gaps in the forest canopy,  there were only three small diameter saplings damaged with wind-snap halfway up.  Hopefully, we will continue not to have any surprises in store with the increasingly more frequent high winds, etc.

  • The next year we hoped to be quieter with just some spot spraying of new crops, roadways, checking boundaries, topping and access paths.  Our plantation is FSC certified and we had our forest inspection during January.


  • It will be four years before the next operations, which also brings the reward of timber sales, so careful management is paramount as our annual subsidy will soon run out.

  • Looking back, although it was hard work and stressful at times, the financial reward and satisfaction of seeing our woodland prosper, was well worth it. Hopefully, the future of hardwoods will also justify the expense and time which we will all, as forest owners, put into our woodlands.

Carlow Tree measure (11).jpg
bottom of page