Die-back may have ecological benefits

Ash Die-back

 

Until now clearing and reforestation has been the best strategy to recover a forest affected by Die-back, bark beetles, heat, drought, storms and fires throughout Germany, according to their Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Dead Ash from Die-back and dead spruce and beech from beetles are often seen by nature lovers who walk through the forests. The plan to reverse the damage usually consists of large scale clean-up followed by a reforestation programme. At least 500 million euros are needed for the programme and subsequent maintenance.

Preserving dead wood

The Government’s initiative has been considered as a “wrong strategy” by some ecologists from Julius – Maximilians- Universitat  (JMU) Wuerzburg in Bavaria. “This policy is likely to create extensive, even forest stands that remain particularly vulnerable to the impacts of future climate change”. Says the ecologist Simon Thorn.

The experts are calling for a radical change. They insist that the Government should reconsider the strategy and financial efforts to create forests resilient to future climate change. The scientists suggest not to remove dead wood and not to conduct reforestations on large scales.

For centuries, forestry has followed a clearing and reforestation plan. The consequences: a steady decline in biological diversity and the extinction of many fungi and insects that depend on dead wood. According to Thorn, this collides with the goals of the Government coalition that the dramatic decline should be halted. Instead, public subsidies must be aimed at preserving dead wood created by disturbances.

 

Credit: Sean McGinnis
          Ash die-back roadside in Athlone

 

Forest Dieback 2.0

In the 1980’s there was widespread forest damage in Central Europe, mainly caused by air pollution due to industry and traffic. At that time there was talk of “Waldsterben or “Forest Dieback”. The current catchword “Waldsterben 2.0” refers to this period. The addition “2.0” expresses that the current forest damage has other causes this time, namely climate change.

 

EcoForestry

Ecoforestry. Ecoplan Forestry Limited

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

  1. 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.
Eco forestry. Ecoplan Forestry Limited
Eco forestry. Ecoplan Forestry Limited

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.

Eco forestry. Low impact machine. Ecoplan Forestry Limited
Eco forestry. Low impact machine. Ecoplan Forestry Limited

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.

Eco forestry Deadwood. Ecoplan Forestry
Eco forestry Deadwood. Ecoplan Forestry

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/

Eco forestry. Ecoplan Forestry
Eco forestry. Ecoplan Forestry

 

 

 

 

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CONTINUOUS COVER FORESTRY IN IRELAND

Continuous Cover Forestry 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 рlоtѕ, аrе рооr. Thеѕе аrе essential in order tо рrасtiсе good fоrеѕt mаnаgеmеnt and in раrtiсulаr CCF.

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Comparisons

Whеn lооking аt Continuous Cover Forestry соmраrеd tо plаntаtiоnѕ, regarding stand stability wе conclude thаt plantation fоrеѕtrу changes the соnѕtrаining ѕitе соnditiоnѕ thrоugh drаinаgе, fеrtilizеr аnd further inрutѕ. In contrast, CCF fоrеѕtrу uѕеѕ mainly native ѕресiеѕ аdарtеd to ѕitе соnditiоnѕ tо imрrоvе thеm оvеr time and inсrеаѕе stability. Thеѕе fundamental differences rеquirе a change in thе mindѕеt оf fоrеѕtеrѕ in Irеlаnd as wеll as a lоng-tеrm соmmitmеnt.

Thе economics of еѕtаbliѕhеd Continuous Cover Forestry are impressive, however соnvеrѕiоn rеѕultѕ in a dеlау in the return оn thе initiаl invеѕtmеnt. Part оf thе investment rеmаinѕ соmmittеd indefinitely. This requires a lоngеr-tеrm approach tо fоrеѕtrу than presently еxiѕtѕ. Aѕ a society our trаditiоn of forestry management iѕ limited. The рubliсѕ’ relationship with fоrеѕtѕ аnd fоrеѕt mаnаgеmеnt hаѕ been rеlаtivеlу poor over thе lаѕt 100 уеаrѕ оr ѕо. The multi-functional nаturе оf аll fоrеѕtѕ аnd thе nееd to utilizе lаnd resources sustainably hаѕ had littlе ассерtаnсе uр to rесеntlу. This, I believe, is reflected in thе рrеѕеnt Iriѕh fоrеѕtrу policy.

Conclusion

CCF should not be seen to bе in direct соmреtitiоn with plantation fоrеѕtrу, but rather as a bеttеr management ѕуѕtеmѕ once fоrеѕtѕ have been еѕtаbliѕhеd. Thiѕ iѕ becoming inсrеаѕinglу арраrеnt аѕ оur information rеѕоurсеѕ improve. Thе соntinuеd lасk оf such infоrmаtiоn, as wеll аѕ thе poor fоrеѕt infrаѕtruсturе, аrе соnѕidеrаblе соnѕtrаining fасtоrѕ tо CCF рrасtiсе in Irеlаnd. Despite thе constraints оutlinеd here, еxiѕting рlаntаtiоnѕ nееd tо bе ассерtеd аѕ a stage in the ѕuссеѕѕiоn to managing forests undеr Continuous Cоvеr Fоrеѕtrу. Suсh Cоntinuоuѕ Cover Fоrеѕtѕ are mаdе uр оf species thаt often require thе рiоnееr function оf plantations (mаdе uр of hardy ѕресiеѕ), but оut-реrfоrm such a рlаntаtiоn оnсе соnvеrtеd. The dеѕign аnd mаnаgеmеnt of plantations nееdѕ to bе аdарtеd tо imрrоvе thiѕ соnvеrѕiоn tо CCF.

Get in touch for more information at http://ecoplan.ie/contact-us/  

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Sean McGinnis

Ecoplan Forestry Ltd.

18 Cluain Rhaine,

Banagher, Co. Offaly,

Ireland.

087 9302922

sean@ecoplan.ie

www.ecoplan.ie

 

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.

Native Woodland. Ecoplan Forestry
Native Woodland. Ecoplan Forestry

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.

Native Woodland. Ecoplan Forestry
Native Woodland. Ecoplan Forestry

 

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 woods. Most noteworthy the oak forests of the Glengarriff Nature Reserve, as well as the Killarney National Park. Restoration work continues  but despite the price, issues and the size of the job the risks are being checked.

333Native Woodland. Ecoplan Forestry
Native Woodland. Ecoplan Forestry

 

Folks’ Millennium Forests

The Woodlands of Ireland undertook this job; a group set up by the Heritage Council to focus attention. The group also recognized new native woodlands and restored historic woods. A native tree was planted on behalf of each family in Ireland and a certificate was published to any or all houses giving details in regards to where trees were to be found in the Family Tree Scheme. The trees were planted within the restoration of the native woodland communities which contain nature trails, woodland walks, interpretative and recreational facilities.

 

Native Woodland Scheme

Finally, The Native Woodland Scheme (NWS) is geared toward protecting, improving and enlarging Ireland’s native woodland resource and related biodiversity, through proper planting and direction. The system also supports the growing of quality hardwood lumber in friendly areas. The system consists of two independent components: Conservation concentrating on guarding and improving existing native woodland, and Establishment creating new native woodland.

 

Ecoplan specialise in the management of Native Woodlands. So, if you are interested in establishing, managing or learning about Native Woodlands, get in touch with Ecoplan Forestry using our Contact page http://ecoplan.ie/contact-us/

Sean McGinnis

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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.

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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 here to contact us for more info

 

Forest Consultancy

Ecoplan Forestry are available for a wide range of forest consultancy services to help forest owners make the most of their forest asset. From site reports and recommendations, to valuations or just general advice Ecoplan will be able to give you the information you need, and give you options.

Good forest consultancy is essential in order to maximise the potential of your forest asset.

Forest Consultancy
Forest Consultancy – Ecoplan Forestry

For more information, please go to the contacts page.

Forest Asset Management

In order to fully realise the full potential of your forest asset, it is essential to manage that asset correctly and professionally. You can include your forest in the Ecoplan Forestry Management Group to avail of professional advice and updates, annual productivity reports, improved security, and the knowledge that your asset is being nurtured.

For more information, please go to the contacts page.

First Meeting of the Giants Grove Silvicultural Advisory Council

First Meeting of the Giants Grove Silvicultural Advisory Council, at the National Botanical Gardens. With Tony Carey of Crann, Prof. Kevin O’Hara of the University of California, Robert Myersough – RHSI President, Matthew Jebb, Director National Botanical Gardens, Lord Rosse of Birr Castle Estate. Diarmuid McAree of Crann, and Sean McGinnis of Ecoplan are out of picture.

 

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Forest Estate Management

Ecoplan specialise in Forest Estate Management, where our goal is to improve the woodland according to a long-term management plan while providing a reliable sustainable income. Professional Forest Estate Management is essential in order to maximise the potential of your woodland, whether your objective is financial, aesthetic, or biodiversity.

Forest Estate Management
Forest Estate Management

We manage a number of Irelands finest Estates where our honesty, reliability and results are greatly appreciated. For more information, please go to the contacts page.

Harvesting & Thinning

Harvesting & Thinning is an essential aspect of Forest Management, if completed correctly thinning realizes short-term financial returns while greatly improving the value of the remaining crop. However, if carried out poorly, the financial impact on the value of the plantation would be disastrous. Ecoplan Forestry manage harvesting & thinning on behalf of clients ensuring all operations benefit the plantation and the client, short and long term, rather than the processor or end user of the extracted timber.

Ecoplan have no conflict of interest in harvesting & thinning operations, no deals with processors or end users; our sole aim and involvement with thinning and harvesting is to ensure the operation benefits the plantation. Never ever sell standing thinnings directly to the end user without an independent forester acting on your behalf!! Never ever have your thinnings managed by a person or company with a conflict of interest regarding the harvested timber!!

Always remember the focus of thinning is about what you leave in the forest, not what you take out!!