Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sudden Oak Death affects Larch

Sudden Oak Death
Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?
Tá deireadh na gcoillte ar lár;
níl trácht ar Chill Chais ná ar a teaghlach
is ní bainfear a cling go bráth.

Now what will we do for timber,
With the last of the woods laid low?
There's no talk of Kilcash or its household
And its bell will be struck no more.

You may have seen where the March Mountain Bike O-event at Clonmore North, Cahir, Co. Tipperary had to be abandoned because Sudden Oak Death has been found in forests in the area. Appropriately enough, the Lament for Kilcash, on the slopes of Slievenamon, ostensibly deals with deforestation in the same area in an earlier era, though really referring to the decline of the Butlers, one of the old noble families of Munster.
Curiously, the disease in Ireland seems to affect Japanese larch, beech and Noble fir trees rather than oak, but it is caused by phytophthora ramorum, a disease related to potato blight, a fungal plant disease of which Irish people will be very aware for historical reasons.
The disease has been found in forests in Northern Ireland and has also had an impact on orienteering there. One problem with the disease is diagnosis: as it affects the larch, which loses its leaves in the winter even though it's a conifer, it is not until the spring that the disease shows up when the tree fails to grow. Signs of ooozing sap and obvious wounds on the trees are also an indication that the disease has struck.
The disease is spread by wind and rain and trees which are close to laurel thickets seem to be particularly at risk. Previously it has affected rhododendrons rather than larch.
Nobody seems to know what to do to deal with it. One drastic solution is to fell the affected forest; another is to ban public access, either all together or to restrict people to roads: either of these could have a major effect on orienteering - remember foot and mouth disease in 2001?
Read what The Irish Times had to report on the disease last August here. Visit here.

On 31st March 2011 the Department of Agriculture issued this press release:

Department gives update on Phytophthora ramorum Monitoring
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is continuing to survey forests and control outbreaks of the EU regulated plant disease Phytophthora ramorum, a fungus like organism that can damage and kill infected trees and plants. Under EU requirements, annual forest surveys for Phytophthora ramorum have been ongoing since 2003. Until last year, there had been no findings on tree species and P. ramorum had only been detected in forest areas on wild invasive rhododendron shrubs.  Following the initial findings in Japanese larch in Ireland in July 2010, an extensive national aerial and ground survey was conducted.  These forest surveys have now confirmed the disease in Japanese larch at eleven forest locations in five counties.
Japanese larch appears to be particularly susceptible to the disease, affecting all age classes and locally causing significant dieback and deaths.  Noble fir, beech and Spanish chestnut growing in close proximity to the infected Japanese larch have also been found to be infected at a number of the sites and it is likely that the Japanese larch is the source of the infection. The infected trees are being removed to prevent the disease spreading.
 There has also been a recent scientifically confirmed finding of P. ramorum in a single Sitka spruce tree. The infected young tree is approximately two metres in height and significantly it was growing in close proximity and underneath the canopy of a large infected rhododendron bush. It is very likely that disease spores produced by this overhanging infected rhododendron bush were the source of infection of the tree.  This is the first field record worldwide of P. ramorum infection in Sitka spruce although the species had been found to be susceptible in international laboratory trials. Spruce in the immediate area of all the Japanese larch outbreak sites have been surveyed and no further P. ramorum infections have been found.  The area around the infected Sitka spruce has been effectively quarantined and monitoring will continue.
There has also been significant number of outbreaks of the disease particularly in Japanese larch in Northern Ireland and Great Britain and the Department is liaising closely with the relevant authorities.
The Department continues to take all necessary measures to establish the extent of the infection and to control the spread of the disease.  Forest owners are requested to be particularly vigilant and as the summer growing season commences to report any unusual symptoms of ill health in larch or other species to the Forest Service of the Department.  For further information on the disease please see

New EastWest Map of Wicklow
Barry Dalby of EastWest Mapping in Co. Wexford, has just published the fourth map of the Dublin/Wicklow mountains, a companion for his earlier maps of West Wicklow, Dublin/Wicklow and Lugnaquilla. All the maps are on Pretex waterproof paper at 1:30 000 scale with 10 m contours and retail at €9.95. They show a lot of historical and archaeological information as well as detail of more immediate importance to the walker, runner or cyclist. There's a special offer for all four maps as a package. Details here.

No Irish Sprint Champs before the Summer
On top of the twelve Days of O you've already read about, there was to be a new kid on the block: the Irish Sprint Championships at UCD, Belfield, in Dublin 4's leafy suburbs, on the eve of the Irish Championships. However, permission from the college authorities is slow to come so the event won't go ahead in April. Planner Laurence Quinn (GEN) hopes that the event will go on in the autumn, in association with a weekend of orienteering in Leinster. We've had Irish Sprint Championships before (two years ago at the Shamrock O-Ringen, the race was at Ross Island, Killarney in a small rocky complex forest with ancient copper mines; last year it was in the NUU Campus at Coleraine). This year - when it happens - will be more like the mixed urban terrain being commonly used for sprint-O. Watch this space! In the meantime, take a day's rest between the JK and the Irish Championships.

Will entries for the JK at Easter top 2000? Today they are at 1956 with four days to go ... Remember that the deadline for JK2011 entries is 31st March and for Relay entries is 7th April. Relay entries have to be made separately on the SportIdent website. See here for details.

Irish Championships entries close soon
Entries for the Irish Champs (both individual and relay) close on Friday 8th April: details here.

Leinster Champs return to Glencree next weekend
GEN run the Leinster Championships in Glencree next Sunday. The terrain is a mixture of steep forest, steep open craggy mountainside, and rough open not-so-steep mountain: hence the courses are rather shorter than you might expect, at least on paper. Start lists and event details are on the LOC2011 web site here.

Shamrock O-Ringen entries close May 6th
The Shamrock O-Ringen 3-Day on the wonderful Sheep's Head peninsula in West Cork is on the Bank Holiday weekend at the beginning of June and entries close on May 6th. However, because of parking and logistical issues, if the entries exceed what the organisers can deal with, entries will close before this, so enter early to be sure of a place! Details here.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

March News

JK Deadline Approaches
Entries for the Jan Kjellstrom O-Fest in Northern Ireland at Easter have topped 1800 but IOA-based orienteers have only managed 165 entries at the last count. These entries are up on 2010 in Devon, but with such a major event just up the road, it's a shame not to take full advantage and enjoy Britain's premier O-event on your doorstep. Entries close on March 31st and Good Friday's sprint-O time slots are filling up fast, so enter now.
In addition to the main Sprint, two Individual and Relay events, there is Trail-O (fiendishly clever courses set by a certain Alan Gartside have Trail-O enthusiasts coming from all over Europe to see if they can get the better of The Man) , TempO (a bit like timed trail-O), String courses for the smallest kids, and a series of other ancillary orienteering and fell races over 12 days. Two of the JK races (Sprint and Classic at Slieve Croob) are also IOF World Ranking Events, a chance for our Elites to pick up WRE points. Incidentally, sprint entries are up a lot on last year's JK, particularly in the older age classes who are discovering the fun of sprint-O: it's mind over matter: sprint-O for the mind, not just the body!
There are large groups coming from Sweden and Norway and orienteers from another 15 countries, some staying for the Irish Champs and some even staying as long as the Shamrock O-Ringen in June! Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden are all represented, as well as the UK and Ireland.
Did you know that the Legananny Dolmen is on the slopes of Slieve Croob (JK Day 3) where the 1986 Irish Champs were run on the weekend of the Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion?

The Twelve Days of O
Remember that there are twelve days of orienteering associated with the JK and the Irish Championships, from QUBOC's Sprint race in the Botanic Gardens area of Belfast on Thursday 21st Aptil to the Irish Relay Champs on Monday 3nd May, so make Ireland your orienteering destination this spring. See JK details here; Irish Champs details here; Shamrock O-Ringen details here.
The omens are good for the Irish Sprint Championships in Dublin on Friday April 29th but the details have to be finalised before it's made official.

Volunteers still needed
The scale of the Jan Kjellstrom weekend is several orders of magnitude greater than anything we have seen before and the organisers need all the help they can get. The number of jobs is endless, from ones involving no knowledge of orienteering up. Please, if you can help at all, get in touch with the JK organisers and volunteer, even for a day or for a specific job, or organise a group from your club to help. If you have non-orienteering friends or family, get them involved too.
Several clubs have been designated as the start team, with a rota so they can run too; Cork O are doing the download and results; the main bulk of the work is falling on the three Northern clubs, North West OC, Fermanagh Orienteers and, of course, Lagan Valley Orienteers, who have put in months of hard work to bring the project this far.
Seriously, time is running out and volunteers are genuinely needed. You're not being asked to give blood, just sweat and tears!

JK Hoodies and Sweatshirts now available
The Irish Junior Squad will be selling JK hoodies and sweatshirts to raise money for their squad training and tours. The tops are available in a range of colours (blue, red, green, grey and black) and sizes. They should be ordered in advance at the JK entries page and picked up at the event. Irish Juniors have been warned only to get the green ones! Hoodies and sweatshirts have to be ordered by 31st March. See the JK entries web site here.

 JK Entertainment too!

A 4-star hotel is the venue for a unique night's entertainment to round off the festival aspect of this year's JK. The ballroom of the sumptuous Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle (where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea) has been taken over for the Trail O prizegiving and a major concert and night's entertainment on the Sunday night, before the Relays on the final day of the festival.
Tickets for this extravaganza (including Routegadget presentations of winners' routes, inspired by the Shamrock Sessions) should be booked on the JK entries web site here. Adults £7, under-12's £3.

The Slieve Donard was opened in 1898 as a luxury hotel at the terminus of the Belfast and Co. Down Railway, attracting visitors to the spectacular scenery of Newcastle.
Please remove muddy O-shoes before entering the hotel!

Some March 2011 Dates for your diary: full details on the IOA/NIOA Fixtures Lists.
6th         2010 Munster Championships, intricate extensive sand dunes, Inch, Co. Kerry
7th         Final date for cheap Leinster Champs entries. See here.
12-13th  Junior Squad training weekend, Dublin
13th        Bull Island, Dublin. Leinster League event on fast sand dunes.
14th        Leinster Champs entries close.
19th        Mountain Bike O, Clonmore North, Cahir, Co. Tipperary: CANCELLED. See note below.
20th        Final Long-O event for experienced orienteers, Tollymore, Co. Down
26th        Northern Ireland Score Championships, Belvoir Park, Belfast
31st        JK 2011 entries close
April 3   Leinster Championships, Glencree, Co. Wicklow