William is the owner of Raheen forest in east Clare. This mature private forest has been in William’s family for generations. It is approximately 60 ha in size, on a free draining brown earth soil at 50 m elevation.
The forest produces softwood sawlog and hardwood firewood through CCF management and offers a high structural and species diversity. It also includes a seven hectare section of ancient Oak forest and a one hectare community woodland area. The entire forest is a much valued recreational amenity for the local community and local schools. William has taken a very proactive approach to managing his forest and has engaged with the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme to provide for close-to-nature conservation management of the ancient Oak section. The community woodland area has been recently developed through the provision of the NeighbourWood Scheme.
The semi-mature conifer / broadleaf section is managed with selection silviculture. It comprises of fifty year old Sitka spruce with Douglas fir, European larch, Birch and Oak. Selective harvesting is concentrated on the larger spruce trees to promote the development of the better formed Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, Larch and Oak as well as to facilitate the onset of natural regeneration of desired species. Oak in particular is promoted for biodiversity and legacy reasons but also for long term production.
Last intervention in 2015 yielded 80 m3 of spruce timber per hectare. This comprised 80% sawlog with an average tree size of 1.5 m3 and was sold to a large regional sawmill. The harvesting was carried out by conventional harvester and forwarder with the assistance of a chainsaw operator to help fell the larger trees. Timber was sold on a standing sale basis. Harvesting costs were comparable with standard thinning rates.
Some young birch and oak sections have also been selectively thinned to promote quality oak and birch stems. This has yielded 35 m3/ha of birch commercial firewood at the last thinning.
Some small-scale clearfelling (typically 2ha in size) has also been carried out for spruce sections on less stable wet soils. For these sections, CCF management was deemed not suitable. Replanting took place following harvest with a conifer / broadleaf mixture. It is possible that these stands will come back into CCF management if given earlier thinning.
|Operation||Year||Age||Area treated (ha)||Total volume harvested (m3)||Volume harvested per hectare (m3/ha)||Firewood||Sawlog||Note|
|Spruce selective felling||2015||45||4||320||80||85%|
|Spruce clearfell||2015||45||1||350||350||70%||Wet area: not suitable for CCF|
Next set of interventions are planned for 2020.
William is considering applying under the WIS - Continuous Cover Forestry Scheme. This could be used to assist further with enrichment planting, high pruning of conifers, deer control and forest monitoring.