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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Native Woodland, an Introduction

Native Woodland Management in Ireland  Centuries of clearance and over-exploitation have reduced the once extensive native woodland of Ireland to the remnants we can now see. Instances of old native woodlands continue to be found as little isolated stands. These are mainly in regions with weak soils which were not normally suitable for agriculture. However, some areas exist in old estates where they are  managed for timber and as protection for game. Native woodland has also grown in the Midlands on pasture in uplands, and cutaway bog, particularly in recent decades. Many of our native forests could have existed since post-glacial times (ancient or long-recognized woodlands). Hence, these have a broader variety of native flora and fauna, many of which are unique to these regions and not seen in modern commercial plantations. The woodlands are an essential habitat in a landscape which is increasingly controlled by intensive agriculture and as a result are the focus of nature conservation and biodiversity improvement. Native woodlands, as the name suggests, are comprised of native tree species. Native woodlands are mainly broadleaved in Ireland. Examples are oak, ash, alder and birch and Scots pine. Native conifer woods are extremely scarce, the very best case being the yew wood in the Killarney National Park on the Muckross Peninsula.   Foresters now recognise their value as hot spots for native biodiversity and now perceive native woodlands in another light. Regional woodlands are being produced in riparian areas adjacent to lakes, rivers and streams to protect water courses from siltation and eutrophication. These places may also provide corridors for wildlife to move through and link the landscape aspects of biodiversity.   CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION Several initiatives were undertaken recently to restore and enlarge our native woodlands. Each has led to our knowledge of the best way to preserve and manage the native woodland resource. Ecologists, Foresters,and other stakeholders have developed and executed significant strategies for the restoration of native woodlands. A few of these initiatives are listed below:   National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Restoration work with the native woodlands was first initiated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). This organisation manages about 5,000ha that symbolizes the finest of the native forests that have been named as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or nature reserves. Overgrazing by livestock and wild deer present real risks to the future existence of a few of these...
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Ash Dieback Disease

Background Chalara fraxinea, known as ash dieback disease, is a relatively newly described fungal disease of ash which was first named in 2006 although dieback symptoms in ash had been first noted in Poland in the early 1990s. The harmful reproducing stage of the fungus, a new species Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus, was later discovered in 2010. The disease has spread rapidly across much of Europe, with the majority of European countries where ash is present now reporting the disease. Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is susceptible to Chalara ash dieback disease, as are a number of other species of ash. The disease can affect ash trees of any age and in any setting. Death of the trees can occur, with younger trees (less than 10 years old) succumbing more rapidly. It is likely that plants for planting that are imported from other European countries are the highest risk pathway for spread into Ireland. Wood, including firewood, is also likely to be a pathway.   Symptoms The wide range of symptoms associated with Chalara ash dieback disease includes: Background Chalara fraxinea, known as ash dieback disease, is a relatively newly described fungal disease of ash which was first named in 2006 although dieback symptoms in ash had been first noted in Poland in the early 1990s. The harmful reproducing stage of the fungus, a new species Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus, was later discovered in 2010. The disease has spread rapidly across much of Europe, with the majority of European countries where ash is present now reporting the disease. Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is susceptible to Chalara ash dieback disease, as are a number of other species of ash. The disease can affect ash trees of any age and in any setting. Death of the trees can occur, with younger trees (less than 10 years old) succumbing more rapidly. It is likely that plants for planting that are imported from other European countries are Necrotic lesions and cankers along the bark of branches or main stem Foliage wilt Foliage discolouration (brown / black discolouration at the base and midrib of leaves) Dieback of shoots, twigs or main stem resulting in crown dieback Epicormic branching or excessive side shoots along the main stem Brown / orange discolouration of bark (Note: The symptoms described above are not exclusive to Chalara fraxinea and may be attributable to a number of other causal agents or factors, e.g. frost.) Click...
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