Continuous cover forestry or close to nature forestry which involves the maintenance of a forest canopy to optimise the management of the forest ecosystem so that the forest can , sustainably and profitably, fulfill its multiple socio- economic functions with the production of quality wood first and foremost.
There are various management methods associated with CCF such as Shelter wood, Single tree, Group selection systems, the most common management practice is through single or group selection felling. Conventional forestry of single aged mono cultures can be transformed to an irregular forest with various ages, sizes, species and trees through CCF.
Grant aid is available under the Woodland Improvement Scheme (WIS) to provide funding for conversion of existing forests to Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) over a 12 year transitional period. Successful applicants are eligible for three WIS payments (€750) for three separate interventions. Forest and Tree Services can look after your CCF management and Grant application.
Benefits of CCF forestry management
- Regular income and forest capital value increase
- Higher quality timber potential and greater proportion of sawlog from each harvest
- Soil and water protection
- No large scale, or open field, replanting
- Permanent flood protection: permanent deep rooted forests intercept, slow and retain large amounts of water due to deeper soil percolation
- Enhancement of biodiversity in forest by maintaining forest condition
- Market flexibility and greater timber assortment
- Increased pest protection
- Wildlife and landscape enhancement
- Climate change resilience and long-term carbon store
- Opportunities for alternative forest uses (e.g.: eco-tourism, game shooting, wild edible mushrooms)
- No large timber sale or payment at any one time
- Regular monitoring required
- Possible higher level of road density and maintenance required
- The greater species range and larger dimensions of timber (>50cm Diameter at Breast Height or dbh) typical of CCF might be more difficult to sell to current Irish sawmills They are currently predominantly set up for one species (Sitka spruce) of smaller uniform dimensions (generally <40cm dbh)