Technologies making crucial tree inventory easier than ever
Last December the second National Forest Inventory was published, providing invaluable information about Ireland's forest estate at the macro level.
One of the most telling statistics is that 56pc of the entire estate is still less than 20 years old. That said, every year many more thousands of hectares of private forest enter the harvesting stage, making an inventory at the micro level a vital component of sound forest management.
The amount of available knowledge has a direct bearing on the quality of management, so knowing the extent of the assets owned by and available to the owner or manager is fundamental to a successful business.
The best time to start a woodland inventory is straight after the first thinning, when it is possible to 'see the wood for the trees', so to speak. This snapshot must be updated regularly to take stock of the growth in volume, ideally following each harvest.
Over time, the emphasis with many of our uniformly-aged and predominantly spruce plantations will be to convert them to more uneven-aged forests with improved species diversity. This is where inventories will become an even more important tool.
How to do an inventory
An inventory is best set out in the form of a computer spreadsheet. Depending on the size and age structure of the woodland it should be separated into compartments or plots, and sub-compartments if necessary, as shown in Table 1.
An additional notes column should be included if any pertinent points relevant to the compartment in question. For example, other minor species, open areas, or a description of biodiversity, archaeological or other features need to be noted.