BIOFOREST, Forestry and Environment Impacts Addressing Water Quality and Biodiversity - Assessment of Biodiversity at Different Stages of the Forest Cycle

BIOFOREST, Forestry and Environment Impacts Addressing Water Quality and Biodiversity - Assessment of Biodiversity at Different Stages of the Forest Cycle

This project is addressing the current gaps in knowledge as to how forest biodiversity changes during the forest growth cycle. Most plantation forests in Ireland are managed under a clear felling regime, which means that they have very distinct stages of development from the planting stages up through thicket and pole stages to finally harvesting and re-planting, or over 'mature' (where the forest is left to grow beyond the commercial optimum). There is very little information on biodiversity in plantation forests in Ireland, and even less on how this may change as the forest develops. As forests are dynamic systems, it is essential not only to have a picture of biodiversity which represents only one stage in the forest cycle, but a series of pictures which can be put together to provide a truer picture of biodiversity in the complete forest system as it changes with age. The project objectives are: 1. Assess the range of biodiversity in representative forests at key stages of the forest cycle; 2. Review and recommend opportunities for enhancement of biodiversity in plantation forests; 3. Assess the effectiveness of the Forest Service Guidelines for Forestry and Biodiversity, and 4. Site selection was aided by querying the extensive Coillte and FIPS (Forest Inventory and Planning System of the Forest Service) databases, and covers as broad a geographical range as allowed by the project logistics.Here are representative sites in both the more westerly 'Atlantic' locations and in more central 'continental' areas. Forest types studied during this project have been pure Sitka, pure ash, and a non-intimate Sitka-ash mix. Four growth stages have been surveyed, ranging from juvenile to mature. Taxonomic groups under investigation are: birds, hoverflies, spiders, and higher and lower plants. Much of the fieldwork was carried out during the 2001 field season, and the remaining work will be carried out in 2002. An official report was produced on Best Practice Overseas of Biodiversity Assessment in Preparation for Forestry. A database for the Project has been designed and constructed by the Coastal Research Centre in UCC. It is based on ArcView 3.2, and has been populated with data collected during the 2001 field season. The data collected in the field will contribute to identifying the actual range and diversity of species present in selected Irish forest types. The changes in biodiversity and species composition over the forest cycle in the range of forest types examined will be used to inform management as to species likely to be present at each stage and their vulnerability to change brought about through the forest cycle. Suggestions will be made as to potential management procedures to ameliorate any negative effects on biodiversity.

If you want to read more about this project, you can do so at erc.epa.ie.

Environmental Protection Agency 2000-LS-3.1.2-M2
Susan Iremonger

Keywords: Forestry; Water Quality; Biodiversity

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