Paddy runs a small farm in east Clare, including a 7-ha mixed oak forest planted in 1994.
"All my life I had an interest and appreciation for wildlife and nature," says Paddy. "Some years ago I decided to take advantage of the introduction of forestry grant and premium schemes to diversify income and habitats on my farm. The primary objective was to provide for wildlife while at the same time growing hardwoods for the long term. The natural choice was to plant mixed broadleaves with mostly native species."
The land selected were rushy, fertile, heavy clay fields but difficult to farm.
In recent years, Paddy has taken a very hands-on approach to managing his forest and progressively got into timber harvesting. This includes two commercial firewood thinning, the development of a local firewood supply from his forest and collaborations with the local school for nature education. "Working in the forest gives me great satisfaction," he says.
Paddy is opting for CCF management with careful selection of quality trees for retention combined with regular selective thinning to ensure rapid, quality growth. "Once you plant hardwoods, CCF management is the natural choice. In the long term, I can see also the possibility of developing CCF management into a parkland-style forest with timber production and some level of stock grazing," he adds.
The forest has benefited over the years from various forestry support schemes such as the Forest Roads Scheme, WIS - Thinning Scheme and the WIS - Continuous Cover Forestry Scheme. This scheme will assist with the subsequent thinnings required to transform this young broadleaf plantation into a diverse, continuous production forest. The next round of thinning is planned for 2020.
CCF management is also of particular significance to the ash section where some dieback was found recently. Paddy hopes that the selective approach will continue to "fatten up" the quality ash and help to reduce the disease impact. Gaps created by harvesting are encouraging natural regeneration of other broadleaves such as sycamore and oak (see image below). It is also expected that the CCF scheme will offer an opportunity to carry out some enrichment planting to further diversify timber species.
|Operation||Year||Age||Area treated (ha)||Total volume harvested (m3)||Firewood volume harvested (m3/ha)|