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  • Writer's pictureFrancesco Martini

Our team's on-site day of learning about Continuous Cover Forestry with Pro Silva Ireland

An update from ForES project postdoc Francesco Martini, TCD, on the team's recent visit with Pro Silva Ireland to a forest site managed with Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF).

People in outdoor gear look around a wood full of green foliage

The ForES team, together with some of the FOREST project team, visited a site managed with Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) principles in May. The event was organised by members of Pro Silva Ireland, with the goal of connecting academics and practitioners. Too often these two worlds run on separate lines, and this event was a great opportunity to share knowledge and experiences. The group spent the day in the privately owned Cloragh Forest, near Ashford, Co Wicklow.

Members of Pro Silva Ireland kindly led the group around the site, which covers almost 200 hectares, and described how it is currently managed following CCF management practices. The principles of CCF, also called Close to Nature Forest Management, are those of a silvicultural management that aims at maintaining forest cover at all times.

Timber is harvested in small amounts and scattered throughout the site, at relatively frequent time intervals. This is different from other options commonly applied in other sites across Ireland, such as clear felling, where an area is harvested by removing all standing trees and later replanted. In the case Sitka spruce, clear felling can be repeated at about 30-40 years intervals, with a first thinning at 15 years and subsequent thinning occurring every 4 or 5 years. Thus, CCF sites allow forests to develop a higher diversity of species in the understories, as well as presenting high structural diversity and trees of different ages. This enables forest sites to deliver multiple ecosystem services (including timber provision, biodiversity, soil stability, and recreation). 

People in forest with conifers and sparse greenery on forest floor
DAY IN THE WOODS...A conifer plantation in the process of being moved to a CCF management, while the previous picture shows a CCF managed area at an advanced stage at Cloragh Wood

The discussions on the day revolved around the management strategies of implementing CCF, the status of the forestry sector in Ireland, and the challenges that forestry and CCF in particular are facing. One of the largest of these is the overabundant deer populations which negatively affect natural regeneration, especially of broadleaved species (see here a great article on the topic from our co-Principal Investigator Yvonne Buckley in the Irish Times).

A huge thank you to Paddy Purser, Liam Byrne, Faith Wilson, Manus Crowley, and Tony Quinn for organising the visit and hosting the ForES team for what was an inspiring day with fruitful discussions. 


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