Potential Utilisation of Irish grown Alnus glutinosa and Eucalyptus spp.
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Over the past century forestry cover in Ireland has risen from a low of 0.5% of total land area to approximately 10% today. This has been achieved through an afforestation policy which concentrated on exotic coniferous species for commercial planting. This imbalance in the forestry mix has resulted in Ireland having the lowest proportion of broadleaf forestry cover in the European Union. Broadleaves have a relatively longer rotation than coniferous species and require intensive management thus incurring greater costs in terms of the pursuit of quality timber. Ireland has thus become very dependent on imported hardwoods as a raw material for the manufacture of wooden products. In recent years there has been extensive debate on the role of broadleaf species in Irish forestry. One of the results of this . has been a dramatic rise in the planting of certain species of broadleaf trees which are relatively easy to establish and develop. In order to fully exploit the commercial potential of such species, their range of end uses must be fully explored. This will enable those involved in forestry to see clearly the markets for their produce and thus achieve a maximum return on their investment. This paper examines one such species. The timber produced from common alder (Alnus glutinosa) is used extensively in other European countries and around the world. In Ireland however, alder is not highly regarded in terms of its timber and there is minimal demand at present for Irish-grown common alder. This paper presents findings on the mechanical and physical properties of Irish-grown specimens of common alder, makes comparisons of those properties with similar species available on the European and Irish markets and explores its full utilisation potential. The results demonstrate that Irish grown common alder compares favourably with alder grown in other countries in terms of utilisation potential. The way in which alder is processed and used in other countries is also presented in an effort to broaden the analysis of its possible uses. Commensurate with this analysis Eucalyptus spp. is introduced as a possible exotic species to be considered for Irish forestry. Extensively used in its native Australia, species of eucalypts have been planted in parts of Europe including Ireland and through trials have had some considerable success. This paper examines in particular its ability to produce quality timber and presents findings on its properties.
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