Forest Operations in Silvergrove, Co. Cork

In response to the enormous amount of interest regarding the recent forestry operations in Silvergrove, Kilbarry, Co. Cork, (loosely referred to as Toon Wood) I’m delighted to take this opportunity to answer some of the genuine concerns raised, and to give some background and explanation of what we are trying to achieve there.   Background The land owner at Silvergrove is a woman with a keen interest in both history and the environment. She approached Ecoplan Forestry in 2014 wondering if she could somehow combine her poor agricultural land and scrub woodland into the ancient, traditional land management practice of ‘wood pasture’, the mutually beneficial integration of trees, forages and livestock. ‘Wood Pasture’ or Silvopasture is an enlightened land management technique. It is currently being promoted by the Forest Service as Agro-forestry due to it’s enormous benefits, and is grant-aided at the establishment stage. Please see the sites: Silvopasture and agroforestry.  I was extremely interested in the project. It was a tradition in the area, and it would have a range of benefits both economic and environmental.   The Application Process My initial site visit showed a farm that had fallen into disrepair over the years. Neither farmland nor woodland; furze, bracken and willow were encroaching onto the open fields throughout. The existing trees were predominantly clusters of coppiced ash, birch and willow, with individual oak and holly in places. The tree stocking was varied, but generally extremely low, and thicker on the boundaries. Ash was regenerating naturally, along with pockets of the other species in places. I estimated the 13Ha was 50% open fields, 50% scrub woodland. I applied for a General Felling Licence (GFL) in May 2015. The site was in the 3km NPWS referral zone, and the local Forest Service (FS) Inspector is their Native Woodland expert, so I was confident that the application would be assessed by expert professionals who were well able to assess any potential issues. 3 months later FS responded with a query – ‘whether or not this is a thinning or a clearfell application and if it’s a clearfell application, a replanting plan must be submitted’. I responded with the details as requested, and volunteered the objectives and prescribed operations. The GFL was approved and issued in late 2015. Considering the length of time it took I can only assume it was referred to the NPWS, and assessed in detail by the FS....
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The Giants Grove Project

  The Giants Grove is a remarkable project. The establishment of an 8 hectare woodland dominated by the world’s largest trees, the worlds largest organism by volume. It will take 1200 years to mature. It is really something special. However, the Giants Grove is so much more than just Redwoods. The project has been carefully planned to be of enormous benefit to the environment, across a wide range of aspects. The Redwoods are widely-spaced, dotted amongst a native woodland. The site consists of Oak, Ash, Birch, Hazel and Scot’s pine, with some Alder, Rowan, Hazel, Holly, Juniper and Spindle. It provides food and cover for a range of wildlife due to its well-developed canopy structure. Surrounded by existing native woodland, which provides essential connectivity between 300+ Hectares.   One of the most exciting aspects of the Giants Grove is how it will connect two large blocks of native broadleaved woodland. The area is already home to red squirrels, voles, shrew, pine marten and even the reclusive otter, in addition to many more common woodland mammal species. There are also large populations of birds and bats, insects and butterflies, all of which will benefit from and thrive in the larger habitat created.  This project is special, on so many levels, in so many aspects. It’s fascinating to imagine how it will look in ten, a hundred or a thousand years. Find out more on the giants Grove website https://www.giantsgrove.ie/ Get in touch for more...
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Native Woodland Conservation

Forest Service finally announced the re-opening of the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme in September 2015, following it’s long suspension during the recession. Certainly it was long overdue. The Native Woodland Conservation Scheme, promotes the appropriate restoration of existing native woodland (including the conversion of non-native forest to native woodland), through the provision of financial support to forest owners towards the cost of appropriate works. It prioritises protected and designated sites of high ecological importance. The objective is to rejuvenate the woodland, creating a dynamic, sustainable forest. Operations generally involve a selective thinning to remove exotic, dead or dying trees. The aim of the proposed harvesting operations is to improve the age, species, and structural diversity of the woodland. Owners can achieve this by opening up the canopy to facilitate natural regeneration. This allows the woodland to progress with well-developed canopy, sub-canopy, shrub and ground layers which will greatly improve the habitat range of the site. Enrichment planting of a wide-range of native trees and shrub species can be used to improve and supplement the natural regeneration. The grant also allows for protection of the trees such as deer-fencing or tree-shelters.   The Grant Scheme The scheme covers the improvement of High Forest and Emergent Woodland. It is a cost based scheme with funds of up to €3800 per hectare available. The Native Woodland Conservation Scheme is based on submitted costs. It provides the woodland owner with a premium payment of €350 per hectare per year for 7 years. Ecoplan Forestry are specialists in the management of Native Woodland Conservation projects. This scheme gives woodland owners an opportunity to conserve our native woodlands and our national heritage. Not just for now but for future generations to enjoy. Our native woodlands must be conserved, protected, improved and given a value, or what incentive is there for their owners to retain them?   Sean McGinnis Ecoplan Forestry...
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EcoForestry

Ecoforestry is a forest management practice which emphasises sustainability rather than pure financial returns. The focus is on the entire forest ecosystem, and here are its main principles: Principles of EcoForestry Sustainability is the most important factor in Ecoforestry. Therefore it must be the first consideration in any planned operation. By doing this, one ensures the protection of such things as rare species, sites of native cultural significance, riparian zones, etc. 2. There should be no impact on Riparian zones. This protects the water quality by not altering the drainage pattern of the zones. Therefore no tree removal should take place in the most sensitive areas. 3. The composition and structure of a forest is vital. So encouraging natural regeneration and retaining senescent trees maintains the age and vertical diversity of the ecosystem. 4. When removing trees, insist on low-impact harvesting methods. As a result this minimises disturbance and avoids soil compaction. 5. Prohibit clear-felling. Clear-felling  is not ecologically correct, and in many cases is not financially the best option anyway. Adhere to continuous cover management systems to ensure biodiversity benefits and long-term sustainability. 6. Carefully select trees as candidates for removal by considering your long-term goals. Hence retained stems should be chosen based on their native provenance, habitat value, seed production or even aesthetics. Consider how these trees will benefit the ecosystem into the future, and plan around that. 7. Allow forests to regenerate naturally from existing seed-trees. This removes the need for expensive planting and allows the forest to develop naturally with species that are ideally suited to the site and local conditions. 8. Limited or preferably no pesticide use. The forest requires disease, insects, and competition, as a result they are essential parts of a fully functioning forest. 9. Retain deadwood and fallen branches wherever possible, because these provide additional habitat and restore soil quality over time. 10. Maintain the aesthetics, beauty and unique qualities of the woodland. 11. Always look at the forest as a whole, from the soil and humus underfoot to the highest canopy. 12. Rely more on people and niche markets. Use alternate thinking to depend less on the destruction or harvesting from the forests. 13. Finally, be enlightened. Don’t allow ignorance to limit what you can do, recognise that the ecosystem needs sensitive management. If the forest is not preserved, then it cannot be harvested forever. Just get in touch for more information http://ecoplan.ie/contact-us/      ...
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CONTINUOUS COVER FORESTRY IN IRELAND

CONTINUOUS COVER FORESTRY IN IRELAND Introduction Cоntinuоuѕ Cover Fоrеѕtrу (CCF) is аn approach to the sustainable mаnаgеmеnt оf forests whеrеbу forest stands are mаintаinеd in a реrmаnеntlу irregular ѕtruсturе, whiсh iѕ сrеаtеd and sustained thrоugh thе ѕеlесtiоn аnd hаrvеѕting оf individuаl trees. Thе tеrm “соntinuоuѕ соvеr fоrеѕtrу” does nоt еԛuаtе еxасtlу to аnу оnе particular ѕilviсulturаl ѕуѕtеm, but is tурifiеd bу selection ѕуѕtеmѕ. Diffеrеnt еxiѕting forest ѕtаndѕ mау rеԛuirе different silvicultural intеrvеntiоnѕ tо achieve a соntinuоuѕlу рrоduсtivе irregular ѕtruсturе. Advantages and history of Continuous Cover Forestry in Ireland A numbеr оf uѕеful ѕресiеѕ аrе nоt fоund in Irеlаnd оr are not nаtivе (е.g. Bоаr). Trее ѕресiеѕ that are аn intеgrаl раrt оf ѕеlесtiоn fоrеѕtrу in Eurоре, but аrе not nаtivе tо Ireland are Bеесh, Sусаmоrе, Silvеr Fir and Nоrwау Spruce. Without thеѕе ѕресiеѕ a true Sеlесtiоn Sуѕtеmѕ iѕ nоt роѕѕiblе. Bу using species thаt are not nаtivе but арреаr to bе соmраtiblе with nаtivе fоrеѕt ecosystems, thе understanding оf thе есоlоgiсаl rеlаtiоnѕhiрѕ within such аn ecosystem is rеduсеd. It’ѕ thiѕ understanding thаt hеlрѕ minimiѕе соѕtѕ in a Cоntinuоuѕ Cоvеr Fоrеѕt. With the Grоuр Sеlесtiоn System mоrе light iѕ rеԛuirеd оn thе fоrеѕt flооr and this increases thе riѕk оf weeds, ѕuсh аѕ grasses. Onсе еѕtаbliѕhеd light-dеmаnding ѕресiеѕ will nееd tо bе givеn muсh more room; thеу won’t wаit likе Bеесh оr Fir. A number of intrоduсеd species have аffесtеd thе balance within оur есоѕуѕtеmѕ (e.g. Grey Squirrel, Sikа Deer and Rhоdоdеndrоn роntiсum) аnd thеir еrаdiсаtiоn оr intеgrаtiоn intо our mаnаgеmеnt systems is a dаunting сhаllеngе. A furthеr соnѕtrаint to the рrinсiрlеѕ оf CCF in Irеlаnd iѕ thе gеnеrаl аbѕеnсе оf lосаl рорulаtiоnѕ of trее ѕресiеѕ. Iriѕh fоrеѕtѕ are dоminаtеd bу introduced ѕресiеѕ with a low dеgrее of ‘nаturаlnеѕѕ’. Fоrеѕtѕ are highly splintered: According to Lеibundgut, thе minimum woodland size rеԛuirеd tо manage a fоrеѕt with thе Group Selection Sуѕtеm iѕ grеаtеr thаn that nееdеd for thе truе Sеlесtiоn Sуѕtеmѕ; аt lеаѕt 5 to 30 ha. Fоrеѕtѕ аrе оftеn under-thinned оr рlundеrеd – increasing ѕtаnd instability while rеduсing thе feasibility оf соnvеrѕiоn to Continuous Cover Forestry. Fеw examples of CCF еxiѕt in Ireland with оnlу с. 7% fоrеѕtеd; рrасtiсаllу all оf this iѕ plantation fоrеѕtrу аnd mаinlу conifer monocultures. Soils hаvе been degraded, раrtiсulаrlу оn marginal land earmarked fоr fоrеѕtrу. Infrastructure, such аѕ fоrеѕt rоаdѕ аnd ridе lines, аѕ wеll аѕ less оbviоuѕ rеѕоurсеѕ ѕuсh as high seats аnd experimental...
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New Forestry Standards Manual

Forest Service have released a new updated Forestry Standards Manual for the Afforestation scheme. This new manual attempts to clarify some of the recurring issues between the Foresters implementing the scheme and the Forest Service supervising it. Previously there had been a wide range of issues and disagreements as a result of varying interpretations of certain points, and hopefully this new manual will make those a thing of the past, resulting in quicker turn-arounds for applications. The new Standards Manual is available on the Forest Service...
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