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Society of Irish Foresters AGM and Eastern Field Day

This event will accrue 15 CPD points. The Society's AGM will be held in the morning and the CCF field day will be held in Knockrath Forest, Laragh, Co Wicklow in the afternoon

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Relevance to Forest Industry:

Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF), also known as ‘close to nature’ forestry, is an alternative silvicultural system that retains permanent forest cover. Under selection-based CCF management, trees are felled individually or in small groups throughout the entire woodland area. The increment in growth is removed as ‘income’ every few years, preserving the ‘capital’ of the standing forest. High quality trees are allowed to grow larger. The system relies on natural regeneration to develop a mixed-age stand. Species diversity is encouraged and naturally emerges across the full productive area of the forest, rather than being compartmentalised in plots. The overall objective is ‘to maximise the commercial benefits from an area of woodland while letting natural processes do most of the work’. 

CCF is widely practised in continental Europe. CCF is also gaining more attention in Ireland and is used on approximately 10,000 hectares of land.[1] It is possible to transform even-aged, single-species, conifer plantations into mixed-age, diverse forests managed according to CCF. However, CCF may not be suitable for all forests. It can be difficult to apply to already mature stands, or to stands on peat soils or in very exposed areas, as heavy or late thinning can reduce stability and lead to windthrow.

The environmental benefits of CCF are well-documented. It can increase soil quality, reduce erosion and water run-off, enhance biodiversity and sequester more carbon. Forests managed under CCF have higher amenity and scenic value. They are also more resilient to climate change.

There are also 5 commercial reasons why CCF is an attractive proposition:

  1. Transformation to CCF brings forward cash flows because of heavier thinning in early years
  2. CCF delivers a stable cash yield, with less exposure to timber price fluctuations, as the entire forest area is partially harvested every few years
  3. CCF avoids the costs of replanting by relying on natural regeneration to establish replacement trees
  4. CCF grows and maintains the capital value of the forest in perpetuity
  5. CCF reduces biophysical risks as diverse, mixed-age stands are less vulnerable to pests, disease and windthrow events


[1] Vitkova, L., Ni Dhubhain, A., O’Tuama, P., Purser, P. (2013) The practice of Continuous Cover Forestry in Ireland. Irish For. Vol 70, 141–156.