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Broadleaf Silviculture Project (RMIS 0139)

This Teagasc-funded project is led by Dr Ian Short and is developing previous broadleaf silviculture work by Teagasc. It continues to investigate the establishment and management of broadleaf crops, utilising sites established in the previous CoFoRD-funded B-SilvRD project as well as new trials.

Project objective

To build upon the medium- to long-term trials established during the 6-year B-SilvRD project, to continue their management and monitoring, to establish a new remedial silviculture fully-replicated trial and fully-replicated shade-tunnel trial, and to disseminate the results (some 10-year results) to industry and stakeholders, increasing broadleaf silviculture knowledge of the Irish forest industry.

Rationale / Methodology

Broadleaf planting has increased over the last two decades yet broadleaf silviculture knowledge has been limited. Many of the planted stands have limited potential to produce high quality timber or have lacked timely management. The B-SilvRD project (2010 – 2016) established some broadleaf silviculture trials, designed for medium- to long-term use, to help fill some knowledge gaps. This project continues the management and monitoring of these trial sites and dissemination of results and broadleaf silviculture knowledge. Some additional new trials have also be established for medium- to long-term use.

With the advent of Chalara ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus), pre-emptive management on ash plantations is prudent, facilitating a change of species and ensuring that a second crop is established in the eventuality that a stand of ash must be felled for sanitary reasons prior to full rotation age. This project has established a shade-tunnel experiment to investigate the impact of shade on the growth of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) and birch (Betula pubescens) bareroot transplants.

A new fully replicated trial related to remedial silviculture of poorly performing pole-stage oak has also been established in Oak Park. The site, planted approx. 1982/3, had extensive damage caused by grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) which resulted in few trees with potential to produce high grade timber. The trial involves a stumping back / coppicing intervention, a process that the B-SilvRD project initiated in ash and sycamore on a pilot basis and which is showing very promising results. In Oak Park the intervention involved also included the retention of existing oak and hazel coppice stools.

In addition to the two new trials aforementioned, B-SilvRD sites being monitored include:

  • 2 oak:birch nursing trials
  • An oak:Scots pine shelter-in-advance establishment trial
  • An oak:Scots pine thinning trial
  • A network of broadleaf thinning demonstration sites
  • A spacing trial incorporating a mixture of ash and sycamore

The project is also developing previous B-SilvRD work that investigated the management of poorly performing broadleaf crops using sites established during that project. These include:

  • Coppice-with-standards
  • Free-growth
  • Systematic thinning with underplanting and/or coppice regrowth

For further information, contact Dr Ian Short.



The Research Field · 11: Broadleaf Tree Plantations Increasing in Ireland