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Independent.ie

Sunday 22 July 2018

Woodland management plans vital for best transition from one owner to next

William Merivale

A woodland management plan should be sufficiently detailed to allow for a smooth and almost seamless transition from one owner or manager to the next.

Without wishing to sound morbid, it's a good idea to bear in mind one's inevitable demise, and to remember we rarely know when our time will come.

An inventory is best set out in the form of a table (an Excel spreadsheet or equivalent is ideal).

Depending on the size and age structure of the woodland, it should be separated into compartments, sub-compartments too, if necessary, and an example could look something like the table below. The notes column should include any pertinent points relevant to the compartment in question. It could include other minor species, open areas, or a description of the area's biodiversity, as well as archaeological or other features that should be noted.

To revert again to being able to see the wood for the trees, it is important to take sample plots throughout the plantation.

The number necessary will vary but as a guide, for areas of 2-10ha, the recommendation is eight plots for uniform crops and 12 where there is greater variability. Of course, it is also important to choose plots at random throughout the plantation.

The information gathered not only gives an indication of what the woodland contains at a particular point in time but is essential in planning a thinning. More specifically, it can be used as a tool to help with thinning control.

Second and subsequent thinnings need to be carefully controlled if the crop is to realise its full potential, and therefore maximum value.

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