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ContinuFOR Project

Transformation of Sitka spruce stands to Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF): Synergies and Trade-offs

Highlights

  • This project is based in Ireland, but has international significance for both forest managers and policy makers
  • Multidisciplinary research including studies of forest development, financial performance, social aspects, and biodiversity considerations
  • Four year collaboration between University College Dublin, Teagasc Forestry Development Department, and Maynooth University (2021-2025), working alongside key stakeholders
  • Builds on the earlier TranSSFor Project (2017-2022) and LISS Project: Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (2010-2014) 

Site Layout

  1. Introduction 
  2. Research Tasks 

Introduction

Most of Ireland’s forests are managed plantations where all trees are the same age and will all be harvested at the same time (clearfelled).

However, interest in alternative management options is increasing, and one such alternative is Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF). CCF often involves periodically harvesting a single tree or small group of trees so the forest maintains some tree cover at all times. CCF can result in a more diverse forest structure with trees of different ages, sizes, and species, providing additional benefits and functions.

A number of forest owners in Ireland have started to transform their forests to CCF; a long-term process that requires plenty of silvicultural guidance and research. Further research is also needed to investigate the broader impacts of CCF on ecosystem services and functions.

The ContinuFOR project therefore has the following objectives:

  • Estimate the area of forest currently undergoing transformation to CCF;
  • Estimate the forest area in Ireland that is suitable for transformation to CCF;
  • Identify the drivers and barriers to CCF adoption;
  • Identify suitable silvicultural approaches to transformation to CCF;
  • Determine the consequences of transformation for timber production (quality and quantity), biodiversity, resilience, and carbon sequestration;
  • Evaluate and calibrate existing growth models for use in modelling growth in CCF stands;
  • Transfer the knowledge generated in the project to end users.

Established experiments and data sources will be used to address the project objectives. This project is fortunate to include the only replicated CCF experiment in Ireland that was designed to study different management options in the CCF transformation process. Existing national datasets will help to extend these studies since there are few established CCF stands in Ireland. This data will also help to investigate how stand structural diversity influences biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and resilience to abiotic and biotic threats.

Project team

Funding and Partners

The ContinuFOR project is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine (DAFM).

The TranSSFor Project was funded by Teagasc Core funding and the Walsh Scholarships Programme. Previously, the Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS) Project was funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine (CoFoRD) 2010-2014.

We also thank Coillte, Sandra Jorgensen, and Lasse Jorgensen for hosting the two research sites.