Commercial forestry plantations have been identified as an issue in the Mulkear catchment. Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) is the primary tree planted for commercial forestry operations in Ireland. It is particularly valued for its fast rate of growth on poor soils and exposed sites where few other trees can be grown successfully; in ideal conditions young trees may grow 1.5 m per year. Problems with acidificatation and sedimentation can arise from commercial operations. In addition, tunneling by trees planted to close to streams where the vegetation over-hangs the water results in excessive shading of the river bed, reducing instream periphyton and aquatic invertebrate production with a knock-on reduction in the channels juvenile salmon holding capacity.
Coillte (The Irish Forestry Board – a leading Irish company which operates in forestry and related businesses) has agreed to examine carrying out a programme of removal of conifers close to the riparian zone at two selected sites, replace them with a native mix of broad leaf mix trees (1.6ha Alder, 1.5ha Birch and 0.4ha Willow and 1.9 open space at Bumkimalta and 0.8ha open space, 3.9ha Scots Pine and 3.9ha Oak at Glenstal).
The response of the invertebrate community will be determined by macroinvertebrate sampling conducted by the Mulkear LIFE Team.