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Creating undergrowth in a forest


 
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phelim_d
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree


Joined: 07 Mar 2011
Posts: 50
Location: Mayo

PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:37 pm    Post subject: Creating undergrowth in a forest Reply with quote

Hi Real Greenies
I am planting about 3 acres with alder, willow, birch in a boggy area in the West.
What will it look like in the future on the forest floor? Do I have to add in ferns by hand or bog tolerant shrubs to make a lower layer? I don't just want a canopy and bare bog beneath it. But I suppose adding in shrubs later on would cost a lot.

Any thoughts?

Thanks again!
P

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tippben
Rank attained: Vegetable garden tender


Joined: 15 Jan 2011
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Location: north tipperary

PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds like you are creating a habitat know as an "Alder Carr". Don't plant anything else for ten years. Monitor what happens. "If you plant it, the right species will come". (sic)
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phelim_d
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks tippben. Do you have one yourself?
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tippben
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish! I was responsible for the management of a couple in Surrey, UK when I worked for the Forestry Commission. Creating a new one, I'd go for an equal mix of Alder, Birch and Willow. You'll certainly get Sallow growing of its own accord, and I'd be tempted to add a bit of Hazel as well. First think about access, as you will need to get in and out, probably with a vehicle. Then paths. Make sure to allow for open glades, and scalloped areas on the paths, which will be a butterfly magnet. The more edge habitats (or ecotones, if we're being posh) you can create, the more wildlife there will be.

A typical management pattern would be coppice rotation with standards. Plant your trees at about 2m spacing. Some will die. The strongest growing ones you can leave to grow into trees. All the rest get coppiced. One third of them (preferably in big blocks, so they grow straight, with mutual shade as they grow) you cut to the ground every 3-5 years. Some of the wood can be piled in neat stacks (habitat piles) for wildlife. If you've planned for access, you can remove some for other uses. Along the paths, you could plant cuttings of coloured willows and cut them as a 1 and 2 year coppice to create materials for willow weaving, living willow sculptures etc. They are quite valuable.

The coppice is your shrub layer. Trees can be removed individually at any stage if wanted. Ground flora will come themselves. If you don't manage the new woodland, you will end up with a canopy layer, an understory of dead wood, and a shrub layer of brambles. There will be no light, lots of windthrow, and very little wildlife.

Managing a small woodland like yours is a joy! There is a burst of intense activity every winter for a short period, a bit of ongoing tinkering in the summer. The rest of the time, you can just enjoy it, keeping records as you go, so your next winter's work is organized, and with specific intentions.
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tagwex
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Joined: 23 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a 6 part programme on BBC about two years back. It showed the trials and tribulations of a man trying to tame a small neglected wood in Wales and turning it back into a living breathing thing as Tippben has described. Look it up, it is well worth a look.
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