Enhancing Biodiversity at Hazelwood: Interview with Ross Buchanan of Inish Forestry
Following an intensive period of clearing invasive species at Hazelwood, a Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) thinning is taking place as part of the biodiversity restoration works. The aim is to increase the proportion of native trees and ensure the long-term survival of the woodland. Ross Buchanan of Inish Forestry is an award-winning forester who has a particular interest in native woodland conservation and establishment, and was involved with early-stage planning for this project. Ross has marked the trees to be removed in CCF thinning this season, and here he tells us a bit about the work and why Hazelwood is such a valuable and unique woodland.
How will this CCF thinning change Hazelwood?
The Southern part of Hazelwood on the shores of Lough Gill is very even-aged as all the trees there were planted around the same time. This thinning will introduce structural diversity where small coupes of trees are being removed to make space for the planting of native saplings. The thinning also reduces the proportion of non-native trees in the woodland canopy throughout the property while promoting native trees - which will be of more benefit for biodiversity.
How do you know which trees should be marked for removal?
Marked trees fall primarily within a number of categories - A) they are non-native, B) they are impeding the growth of a native tree, or C) they are infected with disease. Every tree was selected on the basis of promoting another tree in the woodland, and the trees will be felled in a way that ensures minimal damage occurs to any remaining trees.
Is there anything unusual that you have seen while working at Hazelwood?
I saw a pine stump that appears to have been used by a woodpecker. It is great to see these birds returning across Ireland, and it will hopefully become a common thing in future years to hear the staccato beat of the woodpeckers drumming while walking in our woods. The ring-barking* of certain trees (away from access paths) during this CCF project will greatly facilitate the deadwood resource in the woodland, and should allow woodpeckers to expand their population should there be a breeding pair present.
What is your favourite thing about Hazelwood?
The woodland at Hazelwood has great variety, from the rich alluvial woodland which is periodically immersed in water with its complement of native species in the North, to the beautiful man-made woodland on the shores of Lough Gill. What I really love about the woodland though is that such a commitment has been made to remove harmful invasive species from the area, and that the future woodland will be substantially richer for all that.
CCF management is being used at various sites around the Coillte estate, including as part of the Dublin Mountains Makeover and Coillte staff are involved with training in CCF skills. To find out more about CCF management see the Pro Silva Ireland website or watch our video about how CCF is being used in the Dublin Mountains Makeover.
To help us assess the impact of these biodiversity restoration works at Hazelwood, thirteen permanent biodiversity monitoring plots have been installed across a range of habitat types across site. This will take into account the number and variety of different species as well as the structural diversity, helping us to understand the overall change in the biodiversity value of the woodland over time. These plots will be resurveyed over the coming years to monitor the impact and progress, and we look forward to giving you further updates. You can find out more about the biodiversity works at Hazelwood on our webpage and in earlier news pieces.