Standing timber will be sold for firewood, as the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) revives an initiative from the 1990s.
DEFA is currently seeking bids from businesses or individuals for two marked plots of conifers within South Barrule plantation.
Each plot covers an approximate area 50 metres long, 50 metres wide and 50 metres high, and a licence will be granted to the successful applicant to harvest and remove the timber until March 31, 2014.
Assistant forester at the Forestry, Amenity and Lands Directorate Andrew Igoea, explained: ‘It’s something the department used to do in the 1990s, but lack of demand for firewood, and increased concerns over health and safety meant that we stopped it at the end of the 90s. Now the department is revisiting the idea.
‘Firstly because it’s a good way to thin areas of woodland and open them up by selectively removing individual trees.
‘Woodlands can often be perceived as dark, forbidding places, thinning them makes them more open and inviting, and can encourage more people to use them.
‘The areas we’ve selected are along paths, so opening up these areas will create sight lines for walkers so they can see a reasonable distance ahead and to the side of paths.’
He continued: ‘From a wildlife point of view, opening up these areas also allows more light to fall onto the forest floor, enabling a wider variety of plants to thrive.’
Another reason to revisit the idea is that the department see it as another way of supplying firewood to the public.
Mr Igoea explained: ‘In the past 10 years, as gas and oil prices have risen above inflation, people have been looking for alternative ways of heating their homes,
‘Demand for wood burning stoves has risen dramatically, so there has been a surge in the need for firewood.
‘We hope this will represent another way for the department to work with the public and private organisations to deliver improved recreational facilities and environmental enhancement.
‘It will also help to protect the timber value and visual amenity value of the island’s forest resource for many years to come.
‘South Barrule is the proving-ground for this type of approach with ApeMann, LaserTag and Segway.’
Talking about the safety concerns which had seen the idea stopped in the past, he said: ‘The department has addressed concerns over health and safety by, among other things, stipulating that applicants must have certificates of competence in chainsaw use and felling, and suitable insurance cover.’
Contact Andrew Igoea on email@example.com