Farm forestry has increased in importance in recent years, resulting in a demand for knowledge and solutions at farm level. Teagasc has responded to this increasing demand by expanding its forestry research programme and resources. It covers research on silviculture, tree improvement and quantification of forest materials to optimise market outlets. In addition, the Teagasc forestry development officers are instrumental in facilitating the research programme by interacting with land owners and identification of local resources and problems. The majority of the research is conducted in privately owned farm forestry plantations.

Recent Submissions

  • Vegetative propagation of dieback-tolerant Fraxinus excelsior on

    Douglas, Gerry C.; Namara, J.M.; O'Connell, K.; Dunne, L.; Grant, Jim (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2017)
    Ash trees which are tolerant to Hymenoscyphus fraxineus may be selected in all age classes among heavily infected populations. They may be produced also by controlled crossings of disease tolerant trees, because the genetic component of inheritance for disease tolerance is high. For mature and juvenile plant material, the deployment of disease tolerant genotypes could be potentially achieved by vegetatively propagating selected genotypes. We describe a system to vegetatively propagate selected ash genotypes and we discuss the prospects and options for using vegetative propagation on all age classes of trees. Mature trees were rejuvenated through the process of micropropagation to establish mother plants in large trays which were cut back repeatedly (hedged) to produce at least two crops of cuttings per year. The rooting capacity of ten genotypes was tested by a commercial nursery over a period of three years, to assess the feasibility of using hedged mother plants for efficient propagation. Commercial practise was to treat cuttings with 0.25% IBA, insert them in plug pots and maintain them covered with fine plastic within low plastic tunnels in a non heated greenhouse and without supplementary heating at the cutting base. In the first year, the mean rooting rate was 53 % for the first crop of cuttings and 35 % for the second. In the second and third years the rooting rates improved to over 80% for each crop of cuttings as experience was gained in handling the material. Rooting rate varied among the genotypes. We assessed the growth and development of micropropagated ash trees in the field from an observation clonal trial, consisting of four mature genotypes which had been established in 2002 in five replicate plots. The micropropagated trees were generally similar in height and dbh to seed derived control trees and developed normally. These observations are discussed in the context of using vegetative propagation as a tool in breeding and for the large scale deployment of ash with tolerance to H. fraxineus.
  • Ash dieback on the island of Ireland

    McCracken, A.R.; Douglas, Gerry C.; Ryan, C.; Destefanis, M.; Cooke, L.R. (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 2017)
    On the island of Ireland it is estimated that there are over half a million kilometres of hedgerows (400,000+ km in the Republic of Ireland (Rep. Ireland) and 113,000+ in Northern Ireland (Northern Ireland). Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) is the second most important component, after hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), in large proportions of this hedgerow network. In the Rep. Ireland over 20,000 ha of ash have been planted since 1990, primarily for sawlogs and to provide material for the manufacture of hurleys, which are used in an important national sport called hurling, and for camogie sticks used to play camogie. Ash dieback, caused by Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, was first identified on the island in October 2012 and since then has been detected at 306 sites (195 in Rep. Ireland and 111 in Northern Ireland). In the vast majority of cases the outbreaks have been on young, imported trees planted within the previous 5 – 6 years and it was evident that the pathogen had been introduced on trees for planting. On a small number of occasions there was evidence of the pathogen cycling within a plantation or moving from the plantation to infect neighbouring hedgerow trees. One possible mechanism by which the pathogen can build up sufficient inoculum is by the formation of apothecia on infected woody tissue high up on the plants. Rep. Ireland and Northern Ireland have strict policies of eradication and containment, as set out in the All-Ireland Chalara Control Strategy. To date over 2.1 million trees have been destroyed as part of an eradication strategy. It is considered that this prompt and far-reaching action has had a significant impact, significantly mitigating and preventing the rapid establishment of the pathogen and limiting its spread. The interventions since the disease was first confirmed have helped to protect the considerable investment in ash plantations of the last 20 years. The pathogen has not, however, been eradicated from the island of Ireland and it remains to be seen how widespread, and how quickly ash dieback will become established on the island of Ireland. The latest figures from the Republic of Ireland are that 733 hectares of ash plantation has been reconstituted with another species as a result of Chalara and this has cost our state €2.6 million so far; in addition, Chalara has been found and confirmed in all 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland to a greater or lesser extent. As a result the current policies and procedures regarding Chalara are under review.
  • Morphological and physiological responses of Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur seedlings to light availability

    Sevillano, Ignacio (2016-06)
    The need to develop forest management systems other than clearfelling has resulted in a requirement for improved understanding of the potential of continuous cover forestry (CCF). One suggested method for the conversion of forest stands into CCF systems and for bringing under-performing forests into productivity is thinning in conjunction with underplanting. This study was an attempt to provide information on species suitability for underplanting of two important trees in European forestry: pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) and European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). To determine the morphological, physiological and growth responses of these two species to different light conditions, beech and oak seedlings previously grown at full light for two years were covered by shading nets that provide different shade levels (62%, 51% or 28% of full light) or continued to be exposed to full light. The different shade levels were intended to mimic a range of underplanted conditions and the process of acclimation to shade was studied to provide information on the ecology and adaptation of underplanted seedlings. In addition to the controlled-shade experiment another study to determine the physiological responses of beech natural regeneration to shade was conducted under natural light conditions (from open gaps to closed canopy). Both oak and beech displayed similar acclimation in response to shade for most of the traits investigated. At the plant level, seedling acclimation to shade included higher biomass allocation to above than below-ground parts and greater energy investment on height than diameter growth. At the leaf level, seedlings grown under shade reduced their leaf thickness and photosynthetic rates per unit area and increased their specific leaf area. This increase in specific leaf area seems to be one mechanism that allows seedlings to perform well under shade conditions. Another acclimation to low light conditions was to increase the efficiency of the photosystem II under shade. Photosynthetic rates were higher and leaves were retained for longer in seedlings grown at full light than under shade. Hence, this probably led to a greater growth in the full light than under shade. Despite this greater growth at full light, the results of this study suggest that beech and oak seedlings would be able to acclimate and perform well if underplanted below overstories that reduce the available light to as low as 28% of full light without having any significant adverse effect on the quality of the final crop.
  • Broadleaf thinning in Ireland - a review of European silvicultural best practice

    Hawe, Jerry; Short, Ian (Society of Irish Foresters, 2016)
    A substantial first-rotation broadleaf plantation resource in Ireland is progressively entering a thinning phase. Silvicultural best practice in support of such a management intervention needs to be developed for this new woodland resource to achieve its maximum commercial potential. National research trials are key to the provision of information for the development of best practice. Determining the current state-of-the-art is a prerequisite to the design and implementation of appropriate research trials. This study reviews the literature concerning the fundamental principles of broadleaf thinning with particular regard to timing, intensity and impacts on crop tree growth response, focussing on a range of commonly planted broadleaf species in Ireland. The overall aim of this review is to gain a fuller understanding of the most effective thinning methodology to be employed to maximise the production of high quality hardwood timber. In doing so it is intended that the information presented may support ongoing and future research trials with regard to potential silvicultural treatments to apply, data types and analysis and the likely results of practical application to commercial forestry.
  • A review of stumping back and case study of its use in the rehabilitation of poorly performing pole-stage sycamore

    Short, Ian; Hawe, Jerry; Campion, Jerry; Byrne, Ricky (Society of Irish Foresters, 2015-12)
    First rotation broadleaf plantations present a range of inherent challenges to the achievement of good form and vigour. Where biotic and/or abiotic factors compromise early growth and stem quality, appropriate management interventions to improve these are required. An historical review of “stumping back” literature is presented together with a case-study. The B-SilvRD broadleaf silviculture research project includes a “rehabilitation” strand, whereby innovative measures to improve poorly performing stands of commercial broadleaves are being trialled. One such pilot trial involves a 17year-old sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus L.) plantation, which had not performed well and required significant intervention to improve its silvicultural and economic viability. This paper reviews the literature on stumping back and presents a case-study with results of three different line thinning/stumping back treatments, including analysis of different light regimes and the impact of light levels on coppice regrowth.
  • Projections of forestry as a competitor with mainstream agricultural enterprises and the consequent environmental implications

    Donnellan, Trevor (Teagasc, 2007-01-01)
    Through its relationship with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), staff at the Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC) have developed a system of econometric models of the Irish Agriculture sector. The output from these models includes, amongst other things, projections of agricultural activity levels under different policy options. From an environmental perspective, information on future levels of agricultural activity are important since they can facilitate the calculation of aggregate national levels of emissions of various pollutants from agriculture. The project has also produced a model which makes projections of forestry planting.
  • How remedial silviculture can improve poorly performing pole-stage broadleaves

    Short, Ian; Campion, Jerry (Select Media Ltd., 2015-08)
    The last 20 years has seen the planting of 30,000 hectares of broadleaf trees in Ireland. Action must be taken to achieve the best return on this investment, writes Dr. Ian Short and Jerry Campion, Teagasc Forestry Development Department.
  • The impact of shade on photosynthetic characteristics in Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur seedlings

    Sevillano, Ignacio; Short, Ian; O'Reilly, Conor (Teagasc, 2014-03-10)
  • European Mixed Forests: definition and research perspectives

    Bravo-Oviedo, Andres; Pretzsch, Hans; Ammer, Christian; Andenmatten, Ernesto; Barbati, Anna; Barreiro, Susana; Brang, Peter; Bravo, Felipe; Coll, Lluis; Corona, Piermaria; Ouden, Jan den; Ducey, Mark J.; Forrester, David I.; Giergiczny, Marek; Jacobsen, Jette B.; Lesinski, Jerzy; Löf, Magnus; Mason, Bill; Matovic, Bratislav; Metslaid, Marek; Morneau, François; Motiejunaite, Jurga; O'Reilly, Conor; Pach, Maciej; Ponette, Quentin; Rio, Miren del; Short, Ian; Skovsgaard, Jens Peter; Soliño, Mario; Spathelf, Peter; Sterba, Hubert; Stojanovic, Dejan; Strelcova, Katarina; Svoboda, Miroslav; Verheyen, Kris; von Lüpke, Nikolas; Zlatanov, Tzvetan (Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), 2014-11)
    Aim of study: We aim at (i) developing a reference definition of mixed forests in order to harmonize comparative research in mixed forests and (ii) briefly review the research perspectives in mixed forests. Area of study: The definition is developed in Europe but can be tested worldwide. Material and methods: Review of existent definitions of mixed forests based and literature review encompassing dynamics, management and economic valuation of mixed forests. Main results: A mixed forest is defined as a forest unit, excluding linear formations, where at least two tree species coexist at any developmental stage, sharing common resources (light, water, and/or soil nutrients). The presence of each of the component species is normally quantified as a proportion of the number of stems or of basal area, although volume, biomass or canopy cover as well as proportions by occupied stand area may be used for specific objectives. A variety of structures and patterns of mixtures can occur, and the interactions between the component species and their relative proportions may change over time. The research perspectives identified are (i) species interactions and responses to hazards, (ii) the concept of maximum density in mixed forests, (iii) conversion of monocultures to mixed-species forest and (iv) economic valuation of ecosystem services provided by mixed forests. Research highlights: The definition is considered a high-level one which encompasses previous attempts to define mixed forests. Current fields of research indicate that gradient studies, experimental design approaches, and model simulations are key topics providing new research opportunities.
  • Physiological Responses of Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur Seedlings to Light Intensity

    Sevillano, Ignacio; Short, Ian; O'Reilly, Conor; Grant, Olga M. (FESPB/EPSO, 2014-06-22)
    Broadleaf planting has become increasingly important in Ireland over the recent years and light is recognised as one of the main environmental factors affecting stand development, but to date there has been little research on broadleaf responses to light intensity, particularly in Ireland. Continuous cover forestry (CCF) is increasing as an alternative to clear-cutting and uses the control of light to produce plantation benefits. The physiological responses of beech (Fagus sylvatica) and oak (Quercus robur) seedlings to four different shade environments (100%, 62%, 51% and 28% of incident photosynthetically active radiation, PAR) were studied in a shadehouse experiment during the summer of 2013. Light-response curves (only measured in the extreme treatments) differed between beech seedlings of the Control treatment (PAR=100%) and those of the heavy shade treatment (PAR=28%) when PAR > 100 μmol m-2 s-1, while there was little difference for oak between both treatments. Light-response curves generally showed maximum photosynthetic rates (Amax) at 1500 μmol m-2 s-1 in both treatments, and this PAR value was used while measuring stomatal conductance (gs) and water use efficiency (WUE). Significantly higher values of Amax and gs were found in oak than in beech in the 62%, 51% and 28% treatments. There were no significant differences between oak and beech for Amax and gs in the Control treatment or for WUE in the four treatments.
  • Alley coppice—a new system with ancient roots

    Morhart, Christopher D.; Douglas, Gerry C.; Dupraz, Christian; Graves, Anil R.; Nahm, Michael; Paris, Perluigi; Sauter, Udo H.; Sheppard, Jonathan; Spiecker, Heinrich (Springer, 2014-05)
    Context: Current production from natural forests will not satisfy future world demand for timber and fuel wood, and new land management options are required. Aims: We explore an innovative production system that combines the production of short rotation coppice in wide alleys with the production of high-value trees on narrow strips of land; it is an alternative form of alley cropping which we propose to call ‘alley coppice’. The aim is to describe this alley coppice system and to illustrate its potential for producing two diverse products, namely high-value timber and energy wood on the same land unit. Methods: Based on a comprehensive literature review, we compare the advantages and disadvantages of the alley coppice system and contrast the features with well-known existing or past systems of biomass and wood production. Results: We describe and discuss the basic aspects of alley coppice, its design and dynamics, the processes of competition and facilitation, issues of ecology, and areas that are open for future research. Conclusion: Based on existing knowledge, a solid foundation for the implementation of alley coppice on suitable land is presented, and the high potential of this system could be shown.
  • Soil carbon stocks in a Sitka spruce chronosequence following afforestation

    Reidy, Brian; Bolger, Thomas (Society of Irish Foresters, 2013)
    Increasing concentrations ofCO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are leading to concern worldwide due to their contribution to the greenhouse effect. As the body of evidence supporting the need for change from a carbon rich economy/society becomes stronger, international mitigation agreements require high quality and precise information. Following the Kyoto Protocol and EU agreements to reduce carbon production, countries could utilise default values or comparable international data to calculate their carbon budgets. Initially, approximations were successful for generating a guide to a national carbon stock for reporting GHG inventories to the UNFCCC (Tier 1 ). However, now that the second phase of the Kyoto protocol is running until 2020, greater accuracy is essential and, where possible, nationally specific information is increasingly required (Tier 3, UNFCCC). Forestry and forest soils are seen as a key component in the carbon cycle and depending on their management, can mitigate or contribute to GHG emissions. Litter and soil organic matter (SOM) are two of the major carbon pools required for reporting under LULUCF. In this study, stocks of SOM and litter were recorded along a chronosequence of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) on wet mineral gley soil. Over a 47-year period, the rate of soil carbon sequestration was found to be 1 .83 t C ha−1 yr−1 . Soil microbial biomass was used to estimate highly active SOM. The mineral soils were also fractionated in a density separation procedure to identify light and heavy SOM pools. These estimates can now be used to model carbon budgets of this most common soil type currently under forestry in Ireland.
  • The Irish Forest Soils Project and its Potential Contribution to the Assessment of Biodiversity

    Loftus, M; Bulfin, Michael; Farrelly, Niall; Fealy, Reamonn; Green, Stuart; Meehan, R; Radford, Toddy (Royal Irish Academy, 2002)
    The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has proposed methods and thematic areas for data collection that are appropriate to the evaluation of biodiversity. The Heritage Council has identified a paucity of data on habitats in Ireland. Within this context, we outline the Irish Forest Soils (IFS) element of the Forest Inventory and Planning System (FIPS) and present a detailed account of land-cover mapping, which is an important aspect of the project. The IFS project aims to produce a national thematic map of land cover using soft-copy photogrammetry, combined with satellite-image classification and field survey. This aspect of the IFS project generates data on land cover at different spatial and classification resolutions. We report on the progress made to date and present illustrative examples of the data sets. The UNEP proposals provide a useful framework within which to discuss the potential contribution of IFS data to the assessment of biodiversity.
  • Tending and thinning of broadleaves: A simple guide to selecting quality trees.

    Short, Ian (Select Media Ltd, 2011-11)
    This article describes a simple procedure that can be used to ensure that the correct trees are selected in broadleaf woodland before tending / thinning is carried out, and follows best practice based on the latest Teagasc Forestry research.
  • Coppice-with-standards: An old silvicultural system with new potential?

    Short, Ian; Campion, Jerry (Select Media Ltd, 2014-03-01)
    The last two decades have seen a dramatic increase in the area of broadleaf afforestation in Ireland.Some of these plantations are not performing as well as was expected when planted. This article describes the coppice-with-standards silvicultural system. With the increased demand for fuelwood and greater broadleaf plantation area, some of which may require alternative silvicultural management to the conventional due to poor performance, the coppice–with–standards system has the potential to fulfil many objectives.
  • The Potential Economic Returns of Converting Agricultural Land to Forestry: An Analysis of System and Soil Effects from 1995 to 2009

    Upton, Vincent; Ryan, Mary; Farrelly, Niall; O'Donoghue, Cathal (Society of Irish Foresters, 2013-07-05)
    Private land owners have been responsible for the majority of annual afforestation in Ireland since the mid1990s, but planting rates have generally been declining since 2002. Although the decision to plant may be driven by a number of factors, the profitability of forestry as a landuse option should be an important driver and offer some insight into trends in afforestation rates. As farmers undertake most afforestation in Ireland it is important to account for the opportunity cost of lost agricultural income when analysing the financial outcome of planting. In addition, soil quality plays an essential role in dictating the productivity and profitability of both agriculture and forestry. This study examines the effects of soil quality and superseded agricultural system on the potential profitability of afforestation by farmers between 1995 and 2009. Data from the National Farm Survey were employed to identify the annual gross margins for six agricultural systems on six soil types that differ in terms of quality. The measures of soil quality were translated into potential yield classes for forestry using an existing productivity model and Teagasc’s Forest Investment and Valuation Estimator was employed to calculate the net present value of afforestation for each of the systems and soil types. The results demonstrate how the competitiveness of forestry as a landuse option is influenced by soil quality and superseded enterprise and how forestry has become more competitive with agricultural enterprises over the period of analysis.
  • The potential for using a free-growth system in the rehabilitation of poorly performing pole-stage broadleaf stands

    Short, Ian (Society of Irish Foresters, 2013-12)
    This paper is a literature review of the free-growth system, which may have potential for the rehabilitation of some poorly-performing pole-stage broadleaf stands. It involves releasing of a selected number of good quality stems from crown competition as a basis for the final crop. Generally, only stems with crowns adjacent to the potential final crop trees are removed. The aim is to increase diameter growth of the selected stems and thereby shorten the rotation length needed to achieve a given diameter. The treatment may result in a greater incidence of epicormic shoots, particularly in oak (Quercus spp.). To maintain stem quality, epicormics may need to be removed, which may make the free-growth system uneconomic. There is, however, some evidence to believe that this may not be the case. In addition, the free-growth system may also be applicable in species less prone to epicormics, such as ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus L.). The free-growth system may prove to be a useful system for the rehabilitation of poorly performing pole-stage broadleaf stands and, with the advent of Chalara ash dieback (caused by Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus V. Queloz et al.) in Ireland, may gain greater use for its ability to reduce rotation lengths.
  • Establishment of a bovine/Quercus silvopastoral experiment in lowland Ireland.

    Short, Ian; McAdam, J.; Culleton, Noel; Douglas, Gerry C. (CAB International, 2005)
    A silvopastoral experiment was established at Teagasc in County Wexford, Ireland, in 2002 with oak (Quercus robur L.) in an alley design and bovines. The experiment includes some treatments with trees produced with an enhanced root system (RPM). The treatments are: (1) control pasture plots; (2) RPM agroforestry (400 stems/ha); (3) conventional agroforestry (400 stems/ha); (4) RPM forestry (6600stems/ha; and (5) conventional forestry (6600 stems/ha). The trees were successfully established and cattle were successfully managed in combination with the trees. In the first year, height growth of bare-root oaks was significantly greater in the forestry treatment compared to the agroforestry treatment and, overall, RPM oaks were taller than bare-root plants. Among the RPM trees, the agroforestry system resulted in a greater stem diameter than those in the forestry plots. Height increment was greater for RPM trees than for bare-root trees.
  • High levels of variation in Salix lignocellulose genes revealed using poplar genomic resources

    Perdereau, Aude C.; Douglas, Gerry C.; Hodkinson, Trevor R.; Kelleher, Colin T. (Biomed Central, 2013-08-07)
    Background: Little is known about the levels of variation in lignin or other wood related genes in Salix, a genus that is being increasingly used for biomass and biofuel production. The lignin biosynthesis pathway is well characterized in a number of species, including the model tree Populus. We aimed to transfer the genomic resources already available in Populus to its sister genus Salix to assess levels of variation within genes involved in wood formation. Results: Amplification trials for 27 gene regions were undertaken in 40 Salix taxa. Twelve of these regions were sequenced. Alignment searches of the resulting sequences against reference databases, combined with phylogenetic analyses, showed the close similarity of these Salix sequences to Populus, confirming homology of the primer regions and indicating a high level of conservation within the wood formation genes. However, all sequences were found to vary considerably among Salix species, mainly as SNPs with a smaller number of insertions-deletions. Between 25 and 176 SNPs per kbp per gene region (in predicted exons) were discovered within Salix. Conclusions: The variation found is sizeable but not unexpected as it is based on interspecific and not intraspecific comparison; it is comparable to interspecific variation in Populus. The characterisation of genetic variation is a key process in pre-breeding and for the conservation and exploitation of genetic resources in Salix. This study characterises the variation in several lignocellulose gene markers for such purposes.

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