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Coillte Hazelwood Forest

MKO has been commissioned by Coillte Nature to establish a number of long-term biodiversity monitoring plots in the woodland habitats at Hazelwood Forest, Co. Sligo. The purpose of establishing the plots was to assess the impact of woodland restoration works, particularly the removal of invasive species and Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) thinning operations, on biodiversity within the woodland habitats in terms of species composition and structural diversity.

Plot 12 Oak and beech mixed broadleaved woodland

Plot 3 Mixed broadleaved woodland cleared of Rhododendron and dominated by Downy Birch (Betula pubescens) (2)

Plot 4 Wet willow alder ash woodland

Project challenges

The management objectives for the site are to maintain and restore rare native woodland habitat, enhance the biodiversity value of the site, control invasive species and the provide for recreation, particularly in the southern end of the forest. Work was undertaken by Coillte Nature in 2021 to clear invasive species, including rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum) in the alluvial woodland and other woodland habitats in the northern section of Hazelwood and cherry laurel in the southern section. Proposals for the site for 2022 included clearance in additional areas as well as treatment of any regrowth. A further clearfell of spruce took place in the northern section in 2022, and it was replanted with pioneer wet woodland.

A Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) thinning prescribed for 2022 took place primarily in the southern mixed woodland with the objective of increasing the proportion of native trees/shrubs, diversifying the stand structure in terms of age and species, controlling non-native trees in favour of native species and management of ash-dieback. It is proposed to monitor the impact of the ongoing restoration works by establishing 13 no. permanent monitoring plots at various locations throughout Hazelwood across a range of woodland habitat types.

Main services provided


Ecological surveys

Ecological surveys at the 13 permanent monitoring plots conducted by MKO Ecologists and Bryophyte Expert, Joanne Denyer of Denyer Ecology.


Woodland structure and place species

MKO Ecologists collected information on woodland structure and plant species composition and determined whether habitats surveyed had potential to conform to those listed under Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive. A full Alluvial woodland habitat condition assessment (as per O‘Neill and Barron 2013) was undertaken.

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