Working with nature rather than against it should ensure we benefit financially
I was really looking forward to the visit of Pro Silva Ireland to my woods here in Meath, even though it had rained prior to the event.
Despite the continuing downpours on the day itself, a great crowd turned up to hear the various forestry experts voice their opinions and advise us on how best to manage the woods and maximise income without resorting to clear fell.
Continuous cover or close to nature forestry is attracting a lot of interest among woodland owners these days and we had the benefit of a number of foresters experienced in this system to guide us on the day.
Dr Jurij Diacs, from Pro Silva, Slovenia, and Reyer Knoll, from Pro Silva, Netherlands, had come over for the event and, along with the Irish members, had a lot to say about how the various stands of ash, beech, oak, conifers and mixed species should be managed.
Planting had taken place in 1995 and most of the woods have been thinned twice since then. Due to some serious grey squirrel damage, I had heavily thinned my sycamore but this was considered to have been overdone and the advice was that this winter I underplant with alder.
The only species I hadn't thinned were the oak and beech and fortunately I had done the right thing by leaving them alone and will not be thinning oak for another 15 years or so.
The only intervention advised there was to carry out a small amount of selective side pruning on the best specimens.
It was further suggested I underplant some of the broadleaf woodland with both hazel and hornbeam to suppress side shoots and provide extra produce.