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  • Ecology
  • Ecology
  • Ecology
  • Ecology

There are a number of different walking paths in Dún a Rí. There are four walks of approximately 1.5-2km in length.

Approximately 30 per cent of the Earth's surface is covered by forests, which have been shown to be valuable to society for many reasons -including heritage, landscape, timber, recreational opportunities, climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. Dún a Rí is a forest of 229 hectares. 146 hectares of this land is managed as a commercial forest where the intention is to produce a valuable timber crop which will benefit the economy of the country. The remainder of the forest is predominantly broadleaved woodland accessed by the public as a recreational facility rich with heritage. There are a number of different walking paths in Dún a Rí. There are four walks of approximately 1.5 - 2km in length all with points of interest.

Norway spruce and oak are the two important species in these commercial stands. The spruce will be grown for a "rotation" length of 45 years. It will be felled as a crop of timber trees large enough to be cut into planks of wood, in a sawmill. This wood can be used, for example, as joists and rafters in building.

Not all Norway spruce planted will be held for a full 45 years. Just as a gardener thins out lettuce to prevent stagnation so does the forester periodically thin out his crop of spruce to maintain a healthy vigorous crop of trees on the site. The trees removed at the thinning stages are sold for making paper pulp or for making pallets. The tops of these thinned trees, if their shape is good enough, appear as Christmas trees in shops in December.

Oak trees in Dún a Rí are managed to produce a valuable veneer crop. To succeed in this aim the lower branches of the best trees are pruned off so that as these trees get "fatter" the new wood is produced knot-free. These selected trees will be grown for a rotation length of 150 years. This is one of the peculiarities of forestry: a farmer sows and harvests his crop in less than a year; a forester on the other hand, must wait a long time before trees are big enough to harvest. Because of this time investment in a crop of trees it is a great loss of wealth to the country if a forest burns down.

Of Ireland's total land surface area, just ten per cent is comprised of forests, which represents the second lowest proportional percentage of any country in Europe, according to Professor John O'Halloran at the International Union of Forest Research Organisations (IUFRO).

Speaking at the international conference in UCC in August 2012, O'Halloran said Irish forests were critical to biodiversity and must be maintained and managed: "The uncertainty about future forest ownership and a slowdown in the rate of planting may mean a decline in biodiversity and some species of conservation concern, reliant on the forests."

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