The history, ecology and management of Partry House Estate Woodlands, Partry, County Mayo
The history, ecology and management of Partry House Estate Woodlands situated on the shores of Lough Carra were examined by investigating their current ecology and structural development and contrasting this information with the historical evidence of their management. By combining the historical documentary evidence with the ecological data, the structural processes occurring in each of the woodlands were established leading to a greater understanding of the woodland development processes taking place. Also, valuable baseline data on species composition and diversity was gathered for the woodlands and vegetation maps were established. Partry House Estate has a long history of establishment that has not been researched in the past and this study rectifies this. Using a combination of historical documents and sources, a chronology of events, management and ownership was ascertained. As part of the study a deer exclusion experiment was set up in each of the woodlands to determine the effect of deer grazing on the vegetation layer and tree regeneration. The initial findings of the experiment indicate that excessive deer grazing is resulting in the loss of species diversity and regeneration. Their presence is influencing the natural successional processes in the woodlands which are negatively impacting upon the biodiversity value of Partry House Estate Woodlands. The combined results of the field survey data and the historical data were used to guide the decision whether to manage the woodlands or not. It has been suggested that active adaptive management would be the most suitable approach to managing the woodlands of Partry House Estate and management prescriptions are outlined in a ten year management plan for these woodlands.
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