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New full-colour book highlights Ireland's native woodlands - Ministers Humphreys and Doyle

A new full-colour book entitled Management Guidelines for Ireland’s Native Woodlands has today been launched by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD, the Ministers responsible for nature conservation policy and forest policy in Ireland.

Native woodlands are among our richest and most important natural habitats, and are key to wider countryside biodiversity, water protection, landscape and heritage. They also provide diverse products for their owners, form the basis for eco-tourism enterprises, and represent an invaluable resource for local communities and school children to enjoy and to learn about their local heritage and the wider natural world.

A joint initiative between the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, the new book provides owners and practitioners with key information on establishing and managing native woodlands as a living part of our countryside, to realise their full potential. It is co-authored by Dr John Cross and Kevin Collins, individuals with wide expertise in the area.

Minister Humphreys said:

“I am delighted to see the release of this valuable manual on woodland management. Our native woodlands are a very special resource for biodiversity, especially the very long-standing woodlands. They are a key component of some of our best national parks and nature reserves, and contribute greatly to the landscapes we protect in those parks and in the wider countryside. They give us a wide range of other services, and are a wonderful amenity for enjoyment and healthy exercise. Communities across the country are genuinely engaged in caring for and enjoying such woodlands; they, and professional foresters, will benefit from the publication launched today.”

Minister Doyle said "Between them, the authors combine many years of experience of ecology and forestry and have produced an attractive and practical set of guidelines offering clear and concise guidance for the establishment and management of our native woodlands. We believe that these Management Guidelines for Ireland’s Native Woodlands will contribute significantly to enhancing the quality and encouraging the expansion of this vital component of Ireland’s natural, historical and cultural heritage."

Support is available from the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine for the planting of new native woodland, comprising grants of up to €5,750 / ha and annual premiums of €635 / ha for 15 years. This scheme is operated in partnership with Woodlands of Ireland, an umbrella group representing native woodland stakeholders in Ireland. For further information, see www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice

Management Guidelines for Ireland’s Native Woodlands is available in hardcopy and also in download from the following websites:

Added 28.09.17

Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD, Kevin Collins, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, John Cross, National Parks & Wildlife Service 

Notes for Editors

Details of authors

John Cross

John Cross is an ecologist with over 40 years’ experience. After completing his doctorate in Trinity College Dublin on the ecology of Rhododendron ponticum in the Killarney National Park, he joined the National Parks & Wildlife Service. He has worked in a range of habitats, including peatlands and limestone pavement, but his principal focus has been on native woodlands. Among his responsibilities have been major surveys of native woodlands, the establishment of woodland nature reserves and the provision of guidance on native woodland management. He has worked closely with the Forest Service, Woodlands of Ireland and Coillte and has been involved in the Native Woodland Scheme since its inception. He has also worked in Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic and has an extensive bibliography.

Kevin Collins

After graduating from UCD in 1995 as forester, Kevin worked with ECO UNESCO and the Tree Council of Ireland promoting urban forestry, and is former editor of Irish Forestry, Journal of the Society of Irish Foresters. He joined the Forest Service as a Forestry Inspector in 2000, and has since worked with colleagues and stakeholders on various initiatives, publications and schemes focusing on the environmental and social aspects of forestry, such as water, protected habitats and species, and amenity, the latter in the form of the NeighbourWood Scheme. Kevin co-authored Amenity Trees & Woodlands: A Guide to their Management in Ireland (2010), published by the Tree Council of Ireland, the Arboricultural Association (Irish Branch) and the Society of Irish Foresters. He has also been centrally involved in the development of the Forest Service Native Woodland Scheme since 2000, in partnership with Woodlands of Ireland, National Parks & Wildlife Service, the Heritage Council and other native woodland stakeholders.

Expanded text

Native woodlands are perhaps the most complex and biodiverse habitats in this country, and are of European and international importance as well as a unique part of our heritage. Some are old or ancient, providing windows back deep into Ireland's past and forming a rich part of our history and folklore. However, native woodlands cover just 1% of our landscape, and many need active management and expansion to combat threats such as overgrazing by deer and invasion by rhododendron.

The release of a new publication, Management Guidelines for Ireland’s Native Woodlands, is aimed specifically at addressing this issue. Written for woodland owners, relevant practitioners such as foresters, ecologists and woodland contractors, and also the general public, this book explores appropriate ways to expand and to manage our native woodlands. The publication is richly illustrated with colour photographs, and organised into concise chapters exploring topics such as grazing, natural regeneration, invasive species, deadwood and afforestation. Guidance is also given for specific native woodland habitats found in Ireland, such as oak woodland, birch woodland, yew woodland and alluvial woodland.

The book is a celebration of the variety and the value of our native woodlands. They range from ancient oak and ash woodlands, some of which are over 400 years old, to naturally emerging woodlands, such as birch wood colonising cutaway bog, to recently planted woods.

As well as representing reservoirs of biodiversity, native woodlands deliver other important ecosystem services, such as water and soil protection, habitat linkage, recreation and carbon sequestration. Native woodlands have a significant economic potential too, as a source of quality hardwood, renewable energy and other wood and non-wood products, and as the basis for ecotourism enterprises offering outdoor activities and holiday experiences. They are also part of the scenic landscape and the rich heritage that visitors come to Ireland to experience and to enjoy. In addition, native woodlands represent an invaluable resource for local communities and school children to enjoy and to learn about their local heritage and the wider natural world.

Native woodlands are a shared component of Ireland's nature conservation and forest policies. As such, Management Guidelines for Ireland’s Native Woodlands is a joint publication by the Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht and the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine. It is co-authored by relevant experts from each Department, Dr John Cross (formerly National Parks & Wildlife Service) and Kevin Collins (Forest Service), with input from a wide range of professionals directly involved in native woodland.

Management Guidelines for Ireland’s Native Woodlands is published within the context of a significant and ongoing focus on native woodlands in Ireland by a wide range of bodies. These include Woodlands of Ireland, the Heritage Council, Coillte, KerryLIFE, Muintir na Coille, Crann and the Native Woodland Trust. Woodlands of Ireland works closely with the Forest Service in the development and implementation of the Native Woodland Scheme, and is at the forefront of numerous initiatives, including the development of a Strategy for Native Woodlands in Ireland 2016-2020 and the upcoming national Native Woodland Conference.

As the Ministers responsible for nature conservation policy and forest policy in Ireland, Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister Andrew Doyle welcome the cooperation between the two Departments that underpin this initiative, and strongly recommend this manual to all involved in the management of Ireland's native woodlands, including owners, foresters, ecologists and woodland contractors.

The release of Management Guidelines for Ireland’s Native Woodlands is particularly timely, given the availability of support to farmers and other landowners to create new native woodlands, under the Native Woodland Establishment Scheme. Grants of up to €5,750 / ha and annual premiums of €635 / ha for 15 years are available, providing landowners with an exciting opportunity to develop their own native woodland. As well as enhancing on-farm wildlife and water quality, these woodlands can be managed to provide valuable wood products, using 'continuous cover forestry'. The Native Woodland Establishment Scheme provides landowners in environmentally sensitive parts of the countryside an option to become woodland owners. The scheme can also be used as part of larger on-farm afforestation projects, to compliment more commercially-focus planting involving conifer species. 

ENDS

Date Released: 28 September 2017