Irish forestry is based on Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) originating from North American Pacific Coast. Together with Sitka spruce, also broadleaf species are planted. In the past, an afforestation broadleaf mix of 10% was applied from which the mix has been increased to the current 15%. From 2023 onwards, a broadleaf mix in Dasos afforestation is planned at a minimum of 20%.
The afforestation by broadleaf trees largely represents a re-introduction of original native species, which have become rarer due to the massive deforestation in the country over the past centuries. Introducing such broadleaves generates several positive externalities, such as amenity benefits, water course protection, biodiversity and other ecosystem services with indirect stimulation of flora & fauna as well as improved landscape in terms of road and house setbacks.
In Dasos afforestation sites, the typically planted broadleaf species include alder (Alnus glutinosa, native in Ireland), birch (Betula pubescens, native) and oak (Quercus sp, native). Open ground is also left as smaller pockets without tree planting. All existing hedgerows are allowed to develop with wide variety of woody species. In addition, any groups of semi-mature trees on site are protected and allowed to develop and expand. This carefully designed plantation layout creates a mosaic of conifers, broadleaf trees, and open spaces for the benefit of biodiversity and amenity values.
In 2022, Dasos afforestation accounted for about 10% of all afforestation in Ireland. Moreover, harvesting amounted to some 20% of the biological growth in Dasos forests, implying a notable increase of carbon stored in the maturing forest stock.
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