Storm force winds occurred on 12 separate days between the 5th December 2013 and the 12th February 2014. This series of storms led to a large increase in rainfall on land throughout the country that was already heavily saturated. The most severe windstorm, named ‘Storm Darwin’, occurred on the 12th February 2014 and was associated with an active depression off the south coast that tracked steadily north-eastwards over the country.
Generally, storm events in Ireland do not give rise to large scale damage in our forests. However, the frequency and ferocity of the recent storm events, compounded by waterlogged soils on many sites, has lead to extensive damage. While initial estimates put the area damaged at less than 1% of the total forest area, locally the damage has been severe, with significant volumes of roundwood impacted.
Stakeholders in the forestry sector have come together under the chairmanship of the Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, Tom Hayes TD, to co-ordinate a response to this storm damage. This group, the Windblow Taskforce, is currently engaged in the following activities:
- Estimate the area, volume and extent of the damage nationally;
- Make recommendations to address the many issues that will arise in relation to the windblow event;
- Make recommendations for the orderly removal of windblown timber from damaged forests.
To deal with this windblown timber, it is important that forest owners and timber growers are aware of the various steps to take in assessing and planning the harvest of this timber. The Windblow Taskforce has issued the following guidance note to assist forest owners in this process:
In mid-April 2014, a series of outdoor events will be organised by the Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) and Teagasc in association with Coillte and the Forest Service of Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to provide answers to queries individuals effected by windblow may have. Once confirmed, details of these events will be displayed on this website.
If you have any further queries in relation to the windblow in your forest, please send your query to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assessment of Storm Damage
While initial estimates put the area damaged at less than 1% of the total forest area (5-7,000ha), a more robust estimate was required. Coillte undertook a review of techniques that would facilitate the rapid assessment of the storm damage. A decision was made to use RapidEye satellite imagery. One of the principal reasons for selecting satellite imagery was that it provides a synoptic view of the landscape; is cheaper, more efficient and safer than field-based mapping and allows for retrospective analysis.
RapidEye is a German/Canadian constellation of 5 optical Very High Resolution Sensors that acquires imagery with a spatial resolution of 5 m. A semi-automated supervised classification was developed and implemented by Coillte to map wind damage within the national forest estate. A post-processing step was carried out using Bing imagery for quality control.
The extent of wind damage was estimated to be approximately 8000 ha (+/- 560ha) with counties Kerry, Limerick, Cork and Clare most severely affected. The overall accuracy of the wind damage dataset is estimated at 89%.
For further details on the wind damage assessment processes and results please click on the links below :
Rapid Assessment of Storm Damage (pdf 19,581Kb)
National Storm Damage Map (pdf 564Kb)