TranSSFor Project


TranSSFor Project Logo 2017

The Transformation of Sitka Spruce stands to Continuous Cover Forestry

Two research projects have now been dedicated to promoting greater understanding and confidence in CCF in Ireland. The first of these was the COFORD-funded “Low Impact Silvicultural Systems (LISS) in Ireland” project, led by University College Dublin (UCD), which ran from 2010-2014. This began the process of filling knowledge gaps and resulted in a series of reports and publications (see References below). This work is now being taken forward through a 5-year Teagasc-funded project (2017-2022) titled “Transformation of Sitka spruce stands to continuous cover forestry” – the TranSSFor project. Partners include Teagasc Forestry Development Department and UCD Forestry. 

Project Objectives

The focus of the TranSSFor project is a study of thinning in mid-rotation Sitka spruce stands being transformed to continuous cover forests. Experimental sites are located at two locations in Ireland, with “low”, “crown” and “graduated thinning” treatments. The study was initiated in 2010 and thinning took place in 2011 and 2014. In  2018/19 we plan to complete the third thinning, and evaluate the development of the stand and individual trees.  

Several research objectives have been identified for the TranSSFor thinning study:

  1. To further investigate the impact of two thinning treatments (graduated density thinning and crown thinning), relative to the control low thinning treatment, on the transformation of pure Sitka spruce stands to CCF after the third thinning intervention.
  2. To provide an assessment of various stand parameters, including the potential stand stability, impact on diversity and canopy cover, tree and stand increment, and production and economics of using alternative thinning regimes; and use data for modelling future stand development.
  3. To deliver training and research on human decision-making factors, related to tree-marking and prescriptions design in stands undergoing transformation to CCF.

In addition to the thinning study, data will be evaluated from the three Norway spruce and Sitka spruce research stands set up and managed by the Irregular Silviculture Network (ISN). These stands are in operational forests and are monitored using the inventory protocol devised by AFI (Association Futaie Irrégulière) (see Susse et al. 2011). All three stands have been measured twice; analysis will focus on how management in these stands has influenced the development of an irregular stand structure.

Project Team 

The project team includes: Ted Wilson (UCD/Teagasc, Walsh Fellow), Dr. Áine Ní Dhubháin (UCD, supervisor), Dr. Ian Short (Teagasc, supervisor) and Paddy Purser (PTR Ltd., adviser). The project builds on earlier work (2010-2014) by Dr. Lucie Vitková, currently a Researcher at the Department of Forest Management, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic.


TranSSFor2   TranSSFor1
Forestry and Energy Review
Vol 8, Issue 1, Spring 2018
CCFG Newsletter 
Issue 38, Spring 2018

Knowledge Sharing Events

  • FORTHCOMING *Wilson, E. R., I. Short, Á. Ní Dhubháin and P. Purser. 2018. Comparison of three thinning treatments in Sitka spruce stands under transformation to continuous cover forestry. State Forest Services Silvicultural Working Group, Field Meeting, Fossyhill, Co. Laois, Ireland. 16 May 2018. 
  • *Wilson, E. R., I. Short, Á. Ní Dhubháin and P. Purser. 2018. A continuous cover forestry approach to managing productive Sitka spruce stands. University College Dublin, Forests, Climate and Carbon Field Visit, Dooary Forest, Co. Laois, Ireland. 23 March 2018. 
  • *Wilson, E. R. 2018. Transformation of even-aged conifer stands to continuous cover forests. Guest Lecture. School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland. 30 January 2018. 
  • Wilson, E. R., I. Short and Á. Ní Dhubháin. 2017. Thinning your forest: theory and practice. Ballycullen Field Visit, UCD Forestry, School of Agriculture and Food Science, UCD, Dublin, Ireland. 3 November 2017.

Project Links

Related Resources on Irish Forestry: 

Background Publications and Information

  • Morgan, P., and E. R. Wilson. 2013. The AFI Network: monitoring continuous cover forests in Europe. Society of American Foresters National Convention 2013 – Silviculture Matters! North Charleston, South Carolina, USA, 23-27 October 2013. [view pdf] pdficon_small or SlideShare
  • Sanchez, C. 2017. Pro Silva silviculture: guidelines on continuous cover forestry/close to nature forestry management practices. Forêt Wallonne, Namur, Belgium. 64 p. Link here
  • Susse, R., et al. 2011. Management of irregular forests: developing the full potential of the forest. Association Futaie Irrégulière, Besançon, France. 144 p.
  • Vitková, L., and Á. Ní Dhubháin. 2013. Transformation to continuous cover forestry: a review. Irish Forestry 70(1/2): 119-140 Link here
  • Vitková, L., Á. Ní Dhubháin, P. Ó’Tuama and P. Purser. 2013. The practice of continuous cover forestry in Ireland. Irish Forestry 70(1/2): 141-156 Link here
  • Vitková, L., Á. Ní Dhubháin and V. Upton. 2014. Forestry professionals’ attitudes and beliefs in relation to, and understanding of continuous cover forestry. Scottish Forestry 68(3): 17-25
  • Wilson, E. R., and P. Morgan. 2013. Long-term research in uneven-aged silviculture at Glentress Forest, Scotland. Society of American Foresters National Convention 2013 – Silviculture Matters. North Charleston, South Carolina, USA, 23-27 October 2013. [view pdf] pdficon_small or SlideShare
  • Helliwell, D. R., and E. R. Wilson. 2012. Continuous cover forestry in Britain: challenges and opportunitiesQuarterly Journal of Forestry 106(3): 214-224
  • Wilson, E. R., H. W. McIver and D. C. Malcolm. 1999. Transformation to irregular structure of an upland conifer forestForestry Chronicle 75(3): 407-412
UCD Forestry, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, Dublin

UCD Forestry, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, Dublin, Ireland.

Teagasc Ashtown Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin.

Teagasc Research Centre, Ashtown, Dublin, Ireland.

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