Leading forestry experts from across Europe have gathered in Ireland to discuss new approaches to sustainable forest management and conservation. Hosted by Pro Silva Ireland, the 2023 annual meeting of Pro Silva will take place in Co. Wicklow from Wednesday, June 14 to Friday, June 16, supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The conference will focus on the theme of transforming forests and forest cultures in a changing world, highlighting the benefits of Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) for timber production, biodiversity, climate adaptation, recreation and ecosystem services.
A range of forest types in Co. Wicklow will be visited as part of the conference, including native woodlands in Wicklow Mountains National Park, a young Sitka spruce plantation undergoing transformation to a more diverse forest type, and mixed conifer forests that have been managed through CCF for nearly 20 years. Ticknock Forest in Co. Dublin, a popular amenity which is being transformed to enhance its value for recreation and biodiversity, will also be visited. The conference will also feature a debate on new forestry approaches that serve industry, environment, and people equally.
Liam Byrne, chairperson of Pro Silva Ireland, explained that there is now a clear demand for an integrated approach to forest management that delivers for industry, the environment and people equally. CCF is the best way of balancing multiple values but it is critical to develop new policies, practices and skills. This is a challenge faced across Europe. “This important conference is a unique opportunity for us in Ireland to promote a new cultural relationship with our forests,” he added. Presentations by researchers, foresters and ecologists from University College Dublin (UCD), Teagasc, Coillte, the Dublin Mountain Partnership and the private sector will highlight current projects in close-to-nature forestry taking place in Ireland.
Forests in Europe are being subjected to multiple threats and challenges from the changing climate, the biodiversity crisis, increasing pests and diseases, lack of forest governance, forest abandonment and urban expansion. Pro Silva believes we are at a crucial point in the evolution of sustainable forest management in Europe. As the primary knowledge exchange hub for close-to-nature forest management, Pro Silva is now a key stakeholder in the development of forest policy in Europe, regularly working with the European Forest Institute, Forest Europe and the European Commission to help guide research, training and best practice in irregular silviculture.
CCF, or close-to-nature forest management, aims to retain a permanent forest cover while harvesting timber through regular thinning interventions, therefore protecting forest soils, water and biodiversity. CCF is both ecologically and economically sustainable, and creates beautiful forests for people to enjoy, according to Pro Silva. Pro Silva Ireland is a registered charity with almost 200 members, made up of foresters, landowners, ecologists and other interested individuals. The organisation regularly runs field days and training events for those interested in learning more about close to nature forestry practices.
Pro Silva is a European organisation which promotes close-to-nature forestry and continuous cover forest systems. It was established in 1989 in Slovenia. At present there are 22 full members of the organisation and there are also several other countries with associate membership. More than 6,100 professionals and forest owners are involved in Pro Silva.