The Teagasc Forestry Development Department is organising a Teagasc Forest Research Day tomorrow, Wednesday, October 16, at Teagasc, Oak Park, Co. Carlow.

According to a statement from Teagasc, “important research” into ash dieback will “feature prominently”.

Ash dieback is a serious fungal disease of ash trees. It has spread rapidly across much of Europe. It was first noted in Ireland seven years ago on imported plants.

The event aims to showcase forest research within Teagasc.

The disease is now prevalent throughout most of the island of Ireland. The disease can affect ash trees of any age and in any setting and can be fatal, particularly among younger trees.

Continuing, the statement said: “Teagasc’s research is “at the forefront” of this serious disease and focuses on developing ash tree genetic resources with resistance to ash dieback and on formulating management options for existing ash woodlands.”

Dr. Miguel Nemesio-Gorriz who leads the ash tree genetic research within Teagasc explained: “I study resistance in Fraxinus excelsior [European Ash] against the ash dieback pathogen.

I am currently focusing on the identification and propagation of ash genotypes that are tolerant to ash dieback disease.

“The research objectives of my work are to identify tolerant ash genotypes in Irish forests, to study the molecular mechanisms conferring tolerance to individual ash genotypes and to develop efficient propagation methods for tolerant ash material.”

Dr. Ian Short, broadleaf forestry researcher with Teagasc, explained: “My research focuses on promoting the vigour of ash stands through thinning and by diversifying the species composition of the predominantly ash stands through underplanting.

Thinning operations aim to promote the growth of selected individuals by releasing them from competition.

“The longer the health of these trees can be maintained, the longer we can maintain the ecological integrity and functions of the woodland.

“Ultimately, the long-term resilience of these woodlands lies in achieving a greater degree of species diversity.”

Other research that will be highlighted on Wednesday includes:
  • Irish Birch and Alder Improvement Programme;
  • First and second thinning in Sitka spruce;
  • GENESIS – Genomic evaluation for the sustainable improvement of Sitka spruce;
  • Broadleaf silviculture;
  • Exploitation of small-diameter Alder;
  • TranSSFor – The transformation of Sitka spruce stands to Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF);
  • PW-IPM – Towards integrated pest management for pine weevil in Ireland;
  • The potential of alternative conifers to replace larch species in Ireland, in response to the threat of Phytophthora ramorum;
  • FOROWN –research to deliver improved timber mobilisation;
  • Identification of potential new species of Eucalyptus for the cut-foliage sector.

Teagasc forestry advisor and organiser of the event, Frances McHugh, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to see the role forest research has in addressing the challenges and opportunities across many aspects of forest management in Ireland, and an unique occasion to meet the researchers involved.”