Irish Marteloscopes: exploring new cooperation opportunities

by Ted Wilson

The Annual Pro Silva Ireland forestry tour 2018 was heading towards Obernai, France where the French National Forest Office’s (ONF) silviculture trainer Marc-Etienne Wilhelm hosted the “Irish forestry invasion” for 3 days. A total of 27 members of Pro Silva Ireland participated in the tour, indicating the strength of interest in continuous cover forestry (CCF) among Irish foresters, forest ecologists and woodland owners at the present time.

As a participant in the tour, I (Ted Wilson) took the opportunity to extend my travels and visit the Martelscope training sites at Mooswald and Rosskopf, near Freiburg, Black Forest, Germany. My work is based at the Teagasc Forestry Development Department, Ashtown Research Centre, and at the School of Agriculture and Food Science (Forestry Section), University College Dublin, both in Dublin, Ireland. My current research focuses on CCF, and my main project is called TranSSFor. This deals with the transformation of Sitka spruce plantations to continuous cover forestry. Related to silvicultural and production objectives of the research project is the issue of training, which was the focus of a highly productive meeting with Alex Held and Andreas Schuck, who are with the European Forest Institute.

The aim of my visit was to gain greater insight to current developments with Marteloscopes, which are silviculture and forest conservation training plots, and to learn how they are used for education and skills development. Possibilities for collaboration in the future were on the agenda and how Marteloscopes already established in Ireland can be linked to the Integrate+ demonstration site network.

In Ireland, we have experience with Marteloscopes, but we are now reviewing how to re-inventory our existing sites and extend the network to meet emerging requirements for silviculture education that meets the needs of forestry professionals and woodland owners. The current network was established using the AFI protocol and forms an integral component of the international network of AFI Marteloscopes, which in the anglophone world is now called the Irregular Silviculture Network (ISN). It was thus interesting for me to get insight on the Integrate+/INFORMAR projects and on possibilities of Irish sites within a wider, yet existing site network. The major focus in Ireland lies on training in stand dynamics and tree marking. Currently, we are looking at a range of methods for researching this, and we are especially interested in the software developed for the Integrate+/INFORMAR projects. It is our ambition to make more use of the Marteloscope network for training events, from 2019. In addition, we hope to explore opportunities to contribute to software development, so that foresters in Ireland can play a role in advancing new pathways for forest management and forest biodiversity conservation. Learning from one another and sharing experience are of vital importance, and we look forward to exciting times ahead where we collaborate closely with our colleagues at EFI and partner organisations.

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