• 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; European Commission (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.
    • Ash dieback on the island of Ireland

      McCracken, A.R.; Douglas, Gerry C.; Ryan, C.; Destefanis, M.; Cooke, L.R.; European Co-Operation in Science and Technology (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.
    • Broadleaf thinning in Ireland - a review of European silvicultural best practice

      Hawe, Jerry; Short, Ian; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (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.
    • Continuous Cover Forestry: The rise of transformational silviculture

      Wilson, Edward; Short, Ian; Ni Dhubhain, Aine; Purser (2018)
      CCF has been a popular discussion topic in forestry circles for some time. Now a body of research and an increasing number of working examples are demonstrating the true potential of this flexible and resilient silvicultural approach. Here, Edward Wilson, Ian Short, Áine Ní Dhubháin and Paddy Purser comment on current developments
    • Coppice-with-standards: An old silvicultural system with new potential?

      Short, Ian; Campion, Jerry; COFORD (Select Media Ltd, 01/03/2014)
      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.
    • COST E42 Growing Valuable Broadleaves Silviculture Matrix: An Irish example

      Short, Ian; Bulfin, Michael; Radford, Toddy; European Co-Operation in Science and Technology; COFORD (Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland & Coford, Ireland, 2008)
      The purpose of developing the silvicultural matrix in COST E 42 was to provide a vehicle whereby information on silviculture of valuable broadleaved species could be gathered from as many participating countries as possible. The aim of this matrix is to determine what are considered the optimum silvicultural treatments for each of our target species in countries across Europe. In many cases only one or two countries will have experience of a particular species. Also it must be realised that, for many of the larger countries in Europe, there are different climatic regimes and no single matrix can encapsulate the recommendations for that country. In this case a number of climatic regional matrices would be preferable. For this reason, not all countries felt in a position to contribute a matrix and preferred to provide a narrative discussion on various species. As an illustration of how the matrix can provide a guideline for farmers wishing to plant, the example of ash (Fraxinus excelsior L.) in Ireland is taken. Based on the research we carried out, we developed a set of guidelines to assist farmers in making critical decisions. These guidelines now form the basis for government support to farmers.
    • 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.
    • 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; European Co-Operation in Science and Technology; FP1206 (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.
    • 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.; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Biomed Central, 07/08/2013)
      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.
    • 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, 10/03/2014)
    • 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; National Development Plan; European Commission (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.
    • Management of young forests

      Teagasc (Teagasc, 2012-09)
      Early management is essential to get the best returns from your forest in the future. New plantations require several years of active management to become well established. The payment of the second instalment of the Afforestation Scheme (Maintenance Grant) and forestry premium is subject to the forest successfully achieving certain standards. If a plantation is not well maintained, future timber revenue is likely to be compromised.
    • Morphological and physiological responses of Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur seedlings to light availability

      Sevillano, Ignacio; COFORD; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (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.
    • Physiological Responses of Fagus sylvatica and Quercus robur Seedlings to Light Intensity

      Sevillano, Ignacio; Short, Ian; O'Reilly, Conor; Grant, Olga M.; COFORD (FESPB/EPSO, 22/06/2014)
      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.
    • Poor performance of broadleaf plantations and possible remedial silvicultural systems - a review

      Hawe, Jerry; Short, Ian; COFORD (Society of Irish Foresters, 2012-12)
      Over the last two decades planting of broadleaves has been part of forest policy. In addition to the provision of a range of ecosystem services, it is intended that this resource will have a direct economic stimulus through the supply of quality hardwood. A number of challenges must be met in order to achieve this objective, particularly as current observations would indicate that many first rotation broadleaf plantations comprise a relatively high proportion of poor quality stems. A literature review has been carried out on the probable causes of poor performance in broadleaf crops. Silvicultural systems to rehabilitate poor quality stands are discussed. Subsequent papers will deal with these silvicultural systems in more detail.
    • Possible silvicultural systems for use in the rehabilitation of poorly performing pole-stage broadleaf stands - Coppice-with-standards

      Short, Ian; Hawe, Jerry; COFORD (Society of Irish Foresters, 2012-12)
      This paper is a review of the coppice-with-standards system, a system that may have potential for the rehabilitation of some poorly performing pole-stage broadleaf stands. The system was once a very common system throughout Europe, producing much needed fuelwood and sawlog. Its decline in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere was primarily due to market forces. This review was conducted because the system may have potential once again due to the recent increased demand for firewood. Coppice-with-standards can provide material of various sizes to supply local demand for fuelwood, pulpwood, fencing material and sawlog. The system also has nonmarket benefits such as amenity and biodiversity values. One disadvantage of the system is that it requires greater silvicultural skill to manage to a high standard. The coppice-with-standards system is being trialled as a means to rehabilitate a poorly performing 19-year-old stand of ash:oak mixture.
    • 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; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (Society of Irish Foresters, 05/07/2013)
      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; COFORD (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.