The Forest Service have developed an online Felling Decision Tool, which aims to provide owners with information on estimated timber revenues and forest characteristics (wood volumes per hectare, tree top height, and mean tree size in cubic metres) at different stages in the forest cycle. This tool may be used to assist in deciding when to clearfell, by providing financial information on the implication of felling earlier or later than when the financial returns are normally at their highest. This may enable landowners to get a better return from their investment in forestry, as well as providing the revenue needed to cover reforestation costs to continue the forest cycle.
The tool provides support for a range of conifer species, including: Sitka spruce, Norway spruce, European larch, Japanese larch, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine (North and South coastal) and Scots pine.
Yield Class is a measure of the annual productivity of the forest. There is a ready reckoner provided to estimate the yield class based on species, age and top height.
Step 2 - Select Rotation Type
The rotation type describes the period of time between the establishment of the forest and when that forest is ready for clearfell. The rotation type will loweraty due to factors such as tree species, site type and market demand and requirements. There are three rotation types to choose from: a financial rotation, a rotation which will provide a mean tree volume of 0.7m3 at the time of clearfell and a rotation which will result in a mean tree of 0.5m3 at cleafell. These sizes reflect what sawmills may require — tree sizes in excess- of 0.7m3 are generally not sought after by the main sawmills at present.
Step 3 - Select Management Prescription
Management prescription describes how the forest will be managed during the rotation. Within the Felling Decision Tool there are two management prescription types to choose from: no thin or three thinnings (3 thin).
Step 4 - Timber Prices
The choice of timber price will of course impact directly on the estimates for thinning and clearfell revenues. Within the Felling Decision Tool there are three price time periods to choose from: 5, 10 or 15 year — based on independently sourced average prices which have been obtained over the three time periods.
Step 5 - Select Discount Rate
The discount rate is used with the timber revenues to determine the best financial rotation. The discount rate is based on the assumption that revenue received today may be preferable to waiting a number of years to receive the same income and a perception of risk. Within the Felling Decision Tool there are three discount rates to choose from;. 4, 5 or 6%. A middle range of 5% is normally chosen.
Step 6 - Results
Based on the inputs supplied in. Steps 1-5, information is presented on the estimated timber revenues and forest characteristics (volumes, top height, mean tree size) that will assist in deciding when to clearfell forests and show the implications of felling earlier or later than the financial rotation age or their selected rotation type final fell year.
The estimated net clearfell revenue per hectare is shown together with the gain or loss if the forest is felled earlier or later. For example, if the owner wishes to fell the forest at age 30 then the estimated clearfell revenue per hectare is €12,263. However, the forest at this age is increasing significantly in value year-on-year and delaying the felling decision for even another three years will result in an estimated increase in net revenue of €4,339 per hectare. This information allows a more informed decision to be made on whether to fell the forest or retain it for a further number of years.
Disclaimer:The Felling Decision Tool provides estimates based on assumptions regarding growth models, access, harvestability, timber quality, product recovery, timber price information and stocking which may or may not apply to individual plantations or particular tree species. While every effort has been made to ensure the information provided is accurate, the Deparlment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners Ltd does not accept any responsibility or liability for errors of fact, omission, interpretation or opinion that may be present, nor for the consequences of any decisions based on this information.