Thursday, November 14, 2019





In 1957 the Irish Forest Service founded its Research Branch and much of its early work was concerned with establishment issues on difficult sites such as the adaptability of species and provenances, determining appropriate cultivation and drainage regimes, nutrient requirements etc. Subsequently, research programmes evolved to include other aspects of silviculture such as crop structure, forest protection, etc. and in latter years, investigating and monitoring the effects of forestry and forest operations on the wider environment.

Over the years, research activities in Ireland have resulted in an extensive network of experimental trials on many aspects of forest management. These trials have provided scientific data to assist in developing best forest practice and have also acted as demonstration areas for communicating research results. Early research was mainly confined to the state forest sector, now known as Coillte Teoranta or Coillte, and this situation still prevails though, in recent years, with a steady decline in Coillte funded research, the research programme on privately owned forests has expanded as has that of other forest organisations and third level institutions.

The trials are a unique national resource, in that they contain a wide range of silvicultural and management treatments that have been carried out to strict specifications, they are properly documented and the effects have been measured. In Ireland, considerable investment has been made over the years in the development of the plot network and the gathering of data. There is a need to secure these data in a central location where they can be archived and made readily accessible, in various suitable formats, to researchers and practitioners alike. The creation of a national data base of trials will give a useful inventory of the resources available and silvicultural and management treatments tested. It will also facilitate reviews of knowledge gained to date and will help to show areas where new trials may be required.

The work undertaken under the NATFOREX project has ensured the attainment of these aspirations.
The following four thematic areas and their associated research areas are catered for in the data recovered by NATFOREX:

1. Tree Improvement including topics such as:

  • Species
  • Provenance
  • Progeny
  • Clonal
  • Genetic gain

2. Crop Establishment including topics such as:

  • Cultivation
  • Planting
  • Vegetation management
  • Farmland trials
  • Species mixtures

3. Crop Nutrition including topics such as:

  • Fertilisation
  • Nursing
  • Site amelioration

4. Crop Growth and Yield including topics such as:

  • Spacing
  • Re-spacing
  • Thinning
  • Yield modelling

Copyright (c) 2019 NATFOREX