Harvesting & Thinning

What is Thinning?

  • After a number of years in a newly planted forest as the trees grow, they begin to compete with each other.
  • Thinning is the removal of underperforming trees (dead, dying, forked, suppressed, crooked trees) at specific intervals over the lifespan of the forest crop. Your professional FOCS forestry team can assist with the thinning process and determine which trees are underperforming.
  • Thinning allows for the successful growth of the remaining trees as they are spaced better and will in turn have better quality stems.

Why Thinning your forest is beneficial?

  • Thinning increases the overall timber revenue by increasing the volume of saw log produced.
  • It reduces competition between trees which allows the remaining trees to put on volume quicker which will increase the value of the end yield as trees that are larger and higher quality obtain higher prices and are less expensive to harvest.
  • Create access for ease of management.
  • Increases recreation value of your forest and biodiversity by opening the canopy
  • It provides an interim income for the owner (thinning cycles every 4-5yrs).
  • Tax free Income. This depends on the growth rates and age of the trees thinned.
  • Thinning also enables the application of the best silvicultural practices (e.g. controlling the growth, composition/structure, and quality of forest) to the crop and aids pruning and other operations.

When to thin Your Forest?

Yield class, or more simply top height can be used to indicate when thinning operations should commence. There are different stages for thinning which can be identified and planned with the help of your professional FOCS forestry team.

Steps Prior to Thinning

Please note that your professional FOCS forestry team can help with the steps prior and during thinning as they have excellent knowledge and experience.

  1. Adequate infrastructure system (e.g. necessary road construction, construction of adequate bell-mouth entrances and turning areas).
  2. Pre-thinning crop assessments
  3. Initial crop access operations (e.g. cutting of inspection paths).
  4. Felling Licence
  5. Harvesting Plan
  6. Contractor hire (Your FOCS professional forestry team will assist with the hiring of necessary contractors to maximise standards and efficiency)

What happens if I do not thin my forest?

If you do not thin your forest, it will result in the total yield consisting of small sized trees and will in turn impact the value of the crop.

Harvesting to Clearfell

Harvesting your forest to clearfell is the process of harvesting and completely removing all trees at the end of your forest’s rotation. As a member of the FOCS your professional forestry team can tender your forest sale on your behalf. As the clearfell process is the most valuable harvest operation it is extremely important to liaise with your professional FOCS forestry team to ensure the process is completed to a high standard by qualified individuals.







Clearfell planning process

Advanced planning in conjunction with your FOCS professional forestry team is essential for clearfelling and generally involves:


  1. Assessment of standing timber
  2. Provision of access and loading areas
  3. Securing of a market
  4. Application for a felling licence
  5. Co-operation/co-ordination of harvesting with other forest owners
  6. Preparation of a harvesting plan to minimise environmental disturbance


Continuous Cover Forestry

Continuous Cover Forestry is an alternative approach to clearfelling where some trees may be periodically removed but the canopy is continually maintained.


Continuous Cover Forestry Process

  1. Felling of selected trees
  2. Removal of branches
  3. Cross-cutting stems into size categories
  4. Stacking along tracks in the forest
  5. Extraction to roadside


There are many harvesting and tree extraction options available. Contact your FOCS professional forestry team to discuss the best options for you and your forest.

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