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Storm Darwin 2014

Storm force winds occurred on 12 separate days between the 05 December 2013 and the 12 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 12 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 led 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.

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: