Tracking the impact of afforestation on bird communities.

  • Conor Graham School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork.
  • Sandra Irwin School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork.
  • Mark, W. Wilson School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork.
  • Thomas, C. Kelly School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork.
  • Tom Gittings School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork.
  • John O'Halloran School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork.
Keywords: Afforestation, biodiversity, birds, forest management, grassland.

Abstract

Studies of the impact of afforestation on biodiversity typically rely on surveys conducted at planted and unplanted sites at a single point in time. This paper reports on surveys of bird diversity in unplanted grassland sites and repeat surveys at the same sites seven years after afforestation and is the first longterm experiment of this type for Ireland. Birds were chosen for this study as they are easily surveyed indicators of biodiversity that respond well to environmental change. Overall, species richness was higher in the young forest plantations than in the pre-planting open grassland sites and this increase was a result in the increase in shrub cover following the cessation of grazing in these sites after afforestation. Some farmland bird species were absent following afforestation, but these were replaced by forest associated bird species. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) and warbler (Sylviidae family) species benefited the most from afforestation, though other research suggests that the longterm impact of afforestation on many of these species will be less positive. This study highlights the requirement for long-term investment in biodiversity monitoring following land-use change. Scientific studies of this kind support the integration of biodiversity maintenance with timber production, which is a goal of national and global afforestation policies.
Published
2013-11-01
How to Cite
Graham, C., Irwin, S., Wilson, M. W., Kelly, T. C., Gittings, T., & O’Halloran, J. (2013). Tracking the impact of afforestation on bird communities. Irish Forestry, 172-183. Retrieved from https://journal.societyofirishforesters.ie/index.php/forestry/article/view/10108
Section
Articles