Woodlands & Hedgerows

When selecting species for planting in order to create a woodland or hedgerow, it is important to be aware of similar habitats in the surrounding landscape. Fossitt (2000) in ‘A Guide to Habitats in Ireland’ provides a general overview of the trees and shrubs which one would expect to find in the range of woodland habitats that occur in Ireland. More specific information can be found in the National Native Woodland Survey (Perrin et al., 2008) which provides comprehensive data on the woodlands present across the country and can be utilised to inform the selection of species. The Native Woodland Scheme Establishment document (2011) also provides detailed information on the various constituent species of native Irish woodlands. Woodlands of Ireland has published a number of native woodland technical bulletins (Native Woodland Information Notes) on the classification and establishment of new native woodlands (Little et al., 2009; 2010).

Nutrient rich topsoils are generally suitable for the establishment of WN2, WN3, WN4 some WN5 and WN6 woodland communities depending on parent material, moisture content and texture. Oak-birch-holly wood (WN1) however can only be replicated on nutrient-poor, low pH soils. This also applies to some WN5 and WN7 woodlands (see Forest Service 2008, 2011; Little et al., 2008).

It is therefore important to check the soil type and pH prior to deciding on the woodland type and subsequently the selection of appropriate tree and shrub species. Areas proposed for planting should be protected from compaction by plant machinery during construction/development. Sometimes suitable soil needs to be brought into a site to ensure compatibility for planting in circumstances where soil has been heavily compacted or where the original soil was removed. Checking and monitoring for non-native species is important when considering the importation of soil to a site.

It is useful to get a rough idea of the native woodland types in the vicinity by observing the dominant tree and shrub species in adjacent native woodlands. This information can be utilised to assist in the selection of species for the planting, especially where local topsoil has been re-instated subsequent to development of the site.

For the most part planting mimics the seral stage of woodland development e.g. in the case of scrub/transitional woodland communities (WS1). Woodland canopy species such as ash and oak are typically used during establishment. This approach gives flexibility in circumstances where there is a shortage of planting stock for any particular species. The remaining species typical of the woodland type being established can naturally colonise the woodland over time.
There are many other sources of information available on suitable species and percentage species composition of plantings (Native Woodland Information Notes No’s 4, 5 & 6 - Little et al, 2007, 2008 & 2009).  Please refer to Native Woodland Information Note no. 5 for more detailed information on planting densities.

For hedgerow establishment, county hedgerow surveys are a useful guide and have been commissioned by a number of local authorities to date. These surveys provide information on the species composition of hedgerows in these counties and the relevant landscape character areas. They include:

For further information on the survey and assessment of hedgerow data, consult the Hedgerow Appraisal System - Best Practise Guidance on Hegerow Surveying, Data Collation and Appraisal on the Woodlands of Ireland website (Foulkes et al, 2013).

Habitat type & Code (Fossitt 2000) Description
Bog woodland (WN7) Bog woodland

This category includes woodlands of intact ombrotrophic bogs, bog margins and cutover bog. Bog woodland typically occurs on deep acid peat that is relatively welldrained in the upper layers and is commonly associated with former turf cutting activity or drainage. It may also occur in areas of...

Hedgerow Hedgerows

Linear strips of shrubs, often with occasional trees, that typically form field or property boundaries. Most hedgerows originate from planting and many occur on raised banks of earth that are derived from the excavation of associated drainage ditches. Dimensions of hedgerows vary considerably,...

Oak-ash-hazel woodland (WN2) Oak-ash-hazel woodland

Native, semi-natural woodland that occurs on base-rich or calcareous soils that are generally dry or well-drained, or on rocky limestone terrain. This type of woodland is typically dominated by Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) or Hazel...

Oak-birch-holly woodland (WN1) Oak-birch-holly woodland

Native, semi-natural broadleaved woodland that occurs on acid or base-poor soils that may be either dry or humid, but not waterlogged. Woodland on humus deposits are included, but not peats.

Stands are usually dominated by Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea), or mixed stands...

Riparian woodland (WN5) Riparian woodland

This category includes wet woodlands of river margins (gallery woodland) and low islands that are subject to frequent flooding, or where water levels fluctuate as a result of tidal movement (in the lower reaches of rivers). Riparian woodland is dominated by stands of willows that may include...

Scrub Scrub

This broad category includes areas that are dominated by at least 50% cover of shrubs, stunted trees or brambles. The canopy height is generally less than 5 m, or 4 m in the case of wetland areas. Scrub frequently develops as a precursor to woodland and is often found in inaccessible locations,...

Treeline Treelines

A treeline is a narrow row or single line of trees that is greater than 5 m in height and typically occurs along field or property boundaries. This category includes tree-lined roads or avenues, narrow shelter belts with no more than a single line of trees, and overgrown hedgerows that are...

Wet pedunculate oak-ash woodland WN4 Wet pedunculate oak-ash woodland

This type of woodland is associated with areas that are flooded or waterlogged in winter but which dry out in summer. It occurs on periodically-flooded alluvial sites that are well above the limits of regular inundation, and on drumlins and other sites with heavy, poorly-drained clay soils that...

Wet willow-alder-ash woodland (WN6) Wet Willow-Alder-Ash Woodland

This broad category includes woodlands of permanently waterlogged sites that are dominated by willows (Salix spp.), Alder (Alnus glutinosa) or Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), or by various combinations of some or all of these trees. It includes...

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