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Assessment and update of species and related trials on industrial cutaway peatlands with a view to afforestation.

14 June 2017

Kevin Black, Gerry McNally, Michael Carey and Michael Keane.
We reviewed current recommendations for afforestation of industrial cutaway peatlands based on a re-assessment of the performance of species across a range of previously established experimental trials, demonstration areas and Bord Na Mona (BNM) land managed by Coillte since the mid 1980’s.

During the preliminary assessments of “demonstration” crops in Blackwater, Clonsast and Tumduff, it was noted that long term crop performance was highly variable and sections of sites were not performing well, despite reported good performance of species, such as Norway spruce after four years (Renou-Wilson et al., 2008). Our findings show that the poor performance and die back of Sitka spruce and Norway spruce were associated with nutritional check and other factors apparently governed by peat type, peat depth and aeration. We recommend that a third application of phosphorous and a second application of potassium may be required from ca. 5 years onwards, in addition to initial split applications of fertiliser. A detailed decision support system is described to aid in the selection of sites suitable for forestry, depending on landscape amenity objective (i.e. commercial timber production, forest biomass production or biodiversity forests/woodland). 

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