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Diversification of forest management systems in Ireland

Using marteloscope sites for educating on new approaches

A large number of private forests in Ireland are less than 30 years of age and many are approaching thinning stage. There is now greater need for owners to understand and control the thinning process in order to realise the full value of their forests as part of a sustainable management approach. This is imperative if a sustained level of timber mobilisation is to be achieved from private forests. There is also a growing demand, coming from forest owners, for diversification of management systems to complement the current clear fell-replant system. Recent developments in European and national forestry policy are directed at promoting integrated management as a means of enhancing forest resilience in the face of climate disruption, sustaining forest production and delivering diverse ecosystem services. These new systems, known as Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF), enable commercial timber harvesting while retaining a forest cover in the long term.

This is achieved through a regular selective felling approach and, on suitable sites, can deliver a steady flow of quality timber while retaining forest cover. In this context, understanding the thinning selection process becomes paramount as a delay in thinning or poor practice could significantly compromise owner’s options. Also a new pilot scheme was launched in 2019 by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to fund the development of suitable plantation towards CCF. As the management approach of CCF is new and differs from conventional forestry, new knowledge transfer programmes are required. With this in mind, Teagasc Forestry Development Department, in collaboration with Coillte (the State Forestry Board) and in consultation with Pro Silva Ireland, installed this year a new marteloscope in Curraghchase Forest Park, County Limerick with support from EFI senior researcher Andreas Schuck (Germany), EFI senior software developer Sergey Zudin (Finland) , forester Pádraig Ó Tuama and Ted Wilson, Teagasc Walsh Scholar in Silviculture.

This plot (Curraghchase) together with another plot installed by Coillte in Donadea (Donadea-MHF) forest in County Kildare, joins the Integrate marteloscope site network of about 115 similar training plots across Europe.

I+ Software for marteloscope exercises

The Curraghchase plot near Limerick has been used in 2020 as training ground for a new blended training course on CCF broadleaf management, developed and delivered by Teagasc forestry advisor Jonathan Spazzi to groups of forest owners. The site also hosted a new in-service training for Teagasc Forestry Development Department, organised by Jonathan Spazzi and facilitated by CCF specialist forester Pádraig Ó’Tuama, on how best to incorporate marteloscope sites and the corresponding interactive software running on hand held devices into existing advisory and training methodologies for forest owners and a range of other user groups.

“The development and application of this new knowledge transfer tool has the potential to convey the required management knowledge to owners in a more effective way and support the furthering of sustainable forest management. In turn this will enhance owner’s confidence in their ability to manage their forest and will deliver the necessary skills to choose the most appropriate management systems to meet objectives”, says Jonathan Spazzi. “Field training exercises in marteloscopes have been very well received by forest owners and forestry professionals and will now progress with further installation of similar sites in other locations during 2020-2021. They will all be used for a range of training programmes and targeted to forest owners and other stakeholder groups such as foresters or forestry students wanting to up skill or learn more about sustainable forest management and continuous cover forestry”, Jonathan concludes.

Featured image by Jonathan Spazzi


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