Coillte Forest

Borrisokane

Description

Borrisokane forest is situated in the north to north east of county Tipperary. The forest boundary extends Northwards from N7 to Portumna and from the eastern shores of Lough Derg at Terryglass eastwards and consistent with North Tipperary county boundary. The forest blocks consist of small scattered areas and are widely dispersed. The main villages in the area include Terryglass, Borrisokane, Cloughjordan and there are two small properties east of Birr town.The Forest is located in the Shannon River Catchment and includes 24 forest properties – Minchins, Kilbarron, Coolbaun, Turravoghan, Shanakill, Newlawn, Muckloon, Annagh (Portumna), Ballyquirk, Curraghglass, Derrybreen, Clonfinane, Annagh (Birr), Croghan, Croghan, Crotta, Garraunorish, Knockanacree, Killurane, Cowbaun, Sopwell, Laghile, Kilcunnahin Beg, Kilcunnahin More, and Skehanagh (Farm Partnership). The total forest area is approximately 715 hectares of primarily conifer species. Almost half of the forest area (approximately 44%) has a Primary Management objective dedicated to Biodiversity and Conservation.The principal soil types are raised cutaway and virgin peats with fertile mineralised soils dispersed through the forest. Statuatory designations in this forest (26.7%) include the Lough Derg NHA and SPA, Scohaboy bog NHA, Lorrha bog and Arragh-more bog NHA among others. There are a number of minor rivers associated with this forest the most notably the Little Brosna (SAC) near Birr.Well utilised recreation areas include Coolbaun, Knockanacree and Sopwell Properties. Recreational infrastructure in appropriate properties is an important management objective with new walking trails in Knockanacree Wood being the most recent intervention in conjunction with Cloghjordan Community Group. There is very good potential in this forest for the preservation and conservation of semi-natural woodlands with ecological management plans in place for enhancement of these biodiverse areas. Old woodlands (20.7%) are noted in many properties including Sopwell, Killurane and coolbaun. Conservation opportunities on the raised peats areas are also noted and planned. It must also be noted that the protection of archaeological and cultural features within the forest area is a key priority and responsibility for management.

Management Approach

This forest, like all of Coillte's forests, is being managed under the principles of sustainable forest management and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Sustainable forest management principles ensure a balance between the social, economic and environmental sustainability in the day to day managment of forests. The Forest is principally managed for timber production (56%) and designated biodiversity enhancement, conservation and Recreation (44%).

Replanting

Areas felled will be replanted within 2 years with spruces, larches, Pines and broadleaf species, with open space and scrub being left for the purposes of biodiversity and wet biodiversity areas being created as appriopriate. River buffer zones are, and will be, left open to naturally regenerate at appropriate stages of harvesting and it is Coillte's policy to plant broadleaves back from the buffers. Appropriate areas which have been assessed and considered of ecological importance have ecological plans in place to facilitate the most appropriate management system to conserve and enhance them.

Nature Conservation

A number of native woodland sites will also be established in sites that are being harvested on old Woodland sites and will be planted (or naturally regenerated) with native broadleaves and conifers species so as to preserve the semi-natural characteristics of the woodland flora. Properties with ecological management plans in place include Sopwell, Kilcunnahinbeg and Coolbaun. All statuatory designated areas have ecological management plans in place.

Recreation

Knockanacree Property is a designated recreation area in Borrisokane Forest and managed under a continuous cover system. The property is located close to Cloghjordan Sustainable village complex. Cloghjordan community initiatives are supported by Coillte in the provision of forest trails and this area is regularly used by Coillte’s neighbours, locals and the general public. Coillte are also supportive of local recreation initiatives in Coolbaun and Sopwell Property. Coillte's open forest policy permits pedestrian access only to its forests (all signage must be adhered to). Other recreational activities may be permitted through agreement with local management.

Security

Coillte is continuously working to improve security in its forests to protect against unauthorised and hazardous activities – dumping, barrier damage, destruction of recreation facilities, fires, unauthorised horse riding, quad bike and motorbike access. A number of initiatives are being implemented in this regard. Access to the forest by pedestrians is sanctioned but access by any other means is taken on a case by case basis and is granted by permit only through the forest manager.

Unique Features

Many mid- elevation forests properties in the west of the forest have beautiful views of surrounding Lough Derg area. These properties have landscape plans in place and Coillte is conscious of the importance of these areas being in harmony with the existing landscape. Harmonising the forest with the landscape can only be achieved over time through best practice forest design. Other elements unique to this forest include nationally important flora and fauna in the raised bog areas, old woodland sites and many archaeological and cultural features.

Adjoining Land Use

Adjoining land uses include rural village, farmland (principally dry stock), urban villages and areas of private forestry. Raised bog areas are also prevalent and Coillte are commited to their preservation and enhancement in association with appropriate bodies.

Additional Comment

As a number of these properties are on elevated ground they can often provide for good telecommunications networks (ie aerials, masts and emergency services connections). 'Coillte's practice is to sell, lease or develop a limited area of non-strategic land, for purposes other than forestry. Most sales are made in response to local demand and typically comprise house sites, isolated dwelling houses, sections of recently acquired farms, small outlying forest properties and gravel pits. Although there are no such sites identified for this purpose in this Forest at present if a land sale or development were to arise during the period of the plan this will be subject to the consultation procedures as detailed in our Stakeholder Consultation Code of Practice http://www.coillte.ie/community/consultation_policy/ and Coillte's policy on removal of these lands from those covered by our SFM certificate http://www.coillte.ie/businesses/land_development/property_management_policy/Coillte is actively pursuing opportunities to purchase immature forest in this area. Since Coillte's inception, land acquisitions have far outweighed our land sales and each new area bought will be opened up for recreational use under our Open Forest policy.

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