Deer pru­dence vi­tal to curb for­est dam­age

Irish Independent - Farming - - FORESTRY -

MAN­AG­ING deer and rhodo­den­dron are the big­gest chal­lenges na­tive wood­land plan­ta­tions face, a lead­ing ecol­o­gist has warned.

In­de­pen­dent ecol­o­gist Dr Maria Long told del­e­gates at the Woodlands of Ire­land con­fer­ence that “more joined-up think­ing” is needed when it comes to stop­ping deers dam­ag­ing our na­tive woodlands.

“Deer cause the most prob­lems in ar­eas like Wicklow, Kil­lar­ney and the west of Ire­land as they nib­ble at young trees and dam­age the re­gen­er­a­tion of the for­est,” she ex­plained.

“More joined-up think­ing is needed to pre­vent deers from do­ing this.”

She said while over­graz­ing by deers can dam­age the for­est, un­der­graz­ing should also be avoided.

“No graz­ing is not ideal ei­ther be­cause graz­ing helps con­trol weeds and break up dead veg­e­ta­tion. A balance of lev­els needs to be found,” she said.

She added that while most species of rhodo­den­dron are harm­less to na­tive woodlands, a sur­vey found that half of woodlands con­tained the rhodo­den­dron pon­ticum va­ri­ety, which is in­va­sive and makes re­gen­er­a­tion of the for­est dif­fi­cult.

In order to cur­tail rhodo­den­dron she ad­vo­cated that landown­ers en­gage in “con­certed longterm man­age­ment”.

“It has to be treated with chem­i­cals,” she ex­plained. “It’s a very per­sis­tent plant and makes so much seeds, it needs to be a year-on-year ap­proach.

“Ini­tial work does help but it has to be con­tin­ued ef­forts.”

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