The Woodlands at Lisnavagh

Woodlands at Lisnavagh Estate

Lisnavagh’s woodlands are mostly mixed hardwood forests of up to about 150 years old. The woods are managed in accordance with good forestry practice and subject to rolling five year management plans. The woods are primarily managed as an aesthetic resource and they are an essential part of the landscape at Lisnavagh.

By the 17th century, Ireland had been almost completely stripped of all trees. There was probably some planting of trees along hedgerows and around the first house at Lisnavagh in the 18th century (as can be seen on the 1840 Ordnance Survey), but it was not really until the second half of the 19th century that any significant planting took place, much of it inspired by grants from the Royal Dublin Society. Today, 200 acres of the estate’s 600 acres are in woodland (25%).

Active Woodland Management

The woodlands are also a commercial asset and, from time to time, timber is sold from the woodlands. Since 2001, the Lisnavagh Timber Project has been the destination for all of the commercially viable hardwood timber from the estate’s woodlands. (See www.irishwoods.com)

Several of the woods have seen substantial work in terms of felling commercial timber, thinning, replanting and new planting over the years. Since 2007, five areas of woodland (almost 40 acres) were restored via the Forest Service’s Woodland Improvement Scheme. This included thinning of trees, ivy removal, laurel and other “woody weed” control, underplanting and ditching work.

There are some small-scale commercial softwood plantations of spruce & fir.

Native Species Regeneration

Natural regeneration of tree species is encouraged at Lisnavagh. Different species prefer different woods (interestingly). In one wood, the self-seeded birch trees were outgrowing the softwoods that had been planted there. A decision was made to encourage the regeneration of the birch trees, rather than to curtail it. A few years later A COFORD funded research project, "Pilot Study for the Improvement of Irish Birch", (by Niamh O’Dowd in 2001) described this stand of naturally regenerated birch as follows: "One of the best stands observed in this study in terms of quality."

In other areas of woodland there is natural regeneration of oak, elm, ash, sycamore, beech, horse chestnut and other species.

Ecology & Wildlife

The woodlands also provide a valuable ecological and wildlife resource. The variety of flora & fauna is considerable and fascinating. In terms of the environment and atmospheric carbon dioxide, it is interesting to note that the trees at Lisnavagh alone are responsible for locking in several hundred tonnes of CO2 per year!