Western Forestry Co-op are delighted to see the recent announcement from the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry on the three new support measures to support biodiversity of Irish forests, namely;
1) ‘Continuous Cover Forestry’, (CCF), which allows for the production of commercial timber while retaining forest cover at all times
2) Deer Tree Shelter and Deer/Hare Fencing Scheme which aims to support land owners who wish to plant broadleaves in areas where there is a risk of deer damage;
3) Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS) to introduce grant aid to carry out a second thinning intervention for broadleaf forests

Continuous Cover Forestry

Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) is an alternative forest management approach where the forest canopy is maintained at one or more levels without clearfelling. The distinctive element of CCF is the avoidance of clearfelling areas greater than 0.25 ha or more than two tree heights wide without the retention of some mature trees.  These systems are generally associated with natural regeneration but natural regeneration can be supplemented by planting if required.

The objectives of the scheme are:

  • To enhance environmental benefits of existing coniferous forests by opening up the canopy and creating new habitats for wildlife;
  • To create an uneven canopy structure with the aim of producing high quality, high value logs.
  • To promote a more suitable management option in sensitive sites; and
  • To develop skills in continuous cover forestry across the forestry sector to facilitate adoption.

These objectives will be achieved through improvement felling of poorer quality trees; felling of additional trees to release potential frame trees; pruning to improve stem quality; thinning or re-spacing to promote growth and management and re-spacing of natural regeneration.

The scheme is limited to 30 projects (maximum 10 hectares in size) up until the end of the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020. Approval will be on a first come first served basis, once specified documents have been submitted. In this regard, ecosystem services that could serve the wider public interest must be clearly set out in the Transformation Management Plan.

The scheme will comprise of CCF Transformation Management Plan that will run for a period of 12 years with three instalments of €750 occurring at intervals throughout the 12 year period. The first instalment will be at year 1 with the final payment issuing within 12 years from the date of completion of works relating to the first intervention. The middle payment can be paid at any stage during the intervening period; schedule of payments and timing of these interventions are to be described within the Transformation Management Plan.

Further details on the measure may be found here.

Deer Tree Shelter and Deer/Hare Fencing Scheme

All three species of deer in Ireland are capable of inflicting serious damage to trees, sika deer, fallow deer and red deer. The types of deer damage include:

  • Browsing which is the grazing of foliage of young trees. Browsing may lead to tree death, misshapen trees and delayed crop establishment.
  • Bark stripping is the gnawing of bark, which may result in stem breakage, death or infection and seriously reduces the quality of the timber.
  • Fraying damage to trees is caused when deer rub their antlers against the bark in order to remove the “velvet” from their antlers, or to mark territory.

Most tree species (in particular broadleaves) are vulnerable to significant deer damage.

The option to participate in this scheme is voluntary but can be used on all suitable sites where there is a risk of deer damage to trees. DTS can be used in the additional broadleaf (ADB) parts of conifer plots and in standalone diverse conifer or broadleaf plots.  The minimum stocking where trees are in DTS is 625 trees / hectare whether this is in ADB or in diverse conifer or broadleaf plots.  This is achieved at an average stocking of 4 metres X 4 metres.    The maximum area for receipt of additional DTS grant is 2 hectares for GPC 4 – 10. This limit does not apply for broadleaves planted in ADBs.  An additional fixed grant of €600/ha under deer tree shelters is available under the scheme.

Deer fencing provision €16.25/m, for IS436 @ 140m/ha = €2,275/ha

Upgrade deer fencing rates €8/m, for IS436 @ 140m/ha = €1,120/ha

The following criteria apply to deer fencing:

  • In order to be eligible for funding broadleaved sites must have greater than 40% deer damage on the areas proposed for enclosure by deer fencing.
  • All fencing material must be in accordance with fencing specifications as set out in the Forestry Standards Manual.
  • Fencing upgrades and new fencing must be clearly shown on a fencing map and must show the total length in metres.

Deer fencing specifications are set out in Table 12.1 of the Forest Standards Manual, also available on the Department’s website.  Alternative construction types for deer fencing will be considered on a case by case basis e.g. ‘A’  frame deer fencing.

Further details on the scheme can be found here.

Support for 2nd Intervention of Broadleaf Forests

The aim of the scheme is to stimulate investment in the improvement, protection and development of young broadleaf forests for a range of functions, including:

  • Improve the quality of hardwoods being produced thereby increasing the value of the broadleaf forest for the owner;
  • Timber production;
  • Encourage healthy tree growth;
  • Remove nurse species from conifer/ broadleaved mixtures
  • Landscape and biodiversity enhancement.

The scheme will open up the canopy through thinning and enable more light to reach the forest floor, thereby allowing plants to re-colonise the forest area, increasing biodiversity. In addition, thinning opens up forest areas for walking and other recreational uses. Thinning, by opening up tree crowns to light, also promotes higher levels of tree seed production which favours natural regeneration systems.

Forest owners can also participate in the newly launched Continuous Cover Forestry element of WIS if they have received one WIS funded intervention. In this case, those forests can receive two further tranches of funding when transitioning to CCF.  Grant aid for the first thinning intervention remains at €750 per hectare while funding for the second intervention is capped at €500 per hectare.

Further details on the scheme can be found here.

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