protect us from the damaging environmental factors, such as air pollution caused by emissions. They also protect us from the harmful effects of direct solar radiation and are vital for wildlife. So, what we should do is return the favor and protect the trees. Here in Ireland, one of the main concerns that should be addressed is protecting the indigenous trees.
Years of Deforestation
Once, Ireland was a land of woods and forests. The forest cover percentage on this small island was up to 80%, however, now it has one of the lowest rates in Europe, around 11%. No other country in Europe has experienced such complete devastation of the native woodland as Ireland has. By the beginning of the 20th century, the rate of forest cover on the island was down to 1%. Human activity such as industrialization, agriculture, etc., was the reason for such widespread destruction of Irish forests.
During the 20th century, however, the Irish state started to realize the scope of damage and began the process of extensive tree-planting and creating forests on the mountainous land.
Native Trees in Ireland
Indigenous trees in Ireland play a very important role in the environment and climate. They are vital for flood control, water filtration, soil fertility security, recreation, and well-being. However, over the years the number of native trees has been reduced to only 2% of the total forest cover. One of the main reasons why we should protect the native hardwood trees is flooding. It has been proven by Bangor University research in Wales that native woodlands reduce the effects of flooding. It was shown that the soil under native trees absorbs water 67 times faster than under the grass. This happens due to their long roots that go deep and provide channels to send the water much further underground.
Preserving Indigenous Trees
Local arborist and tree surgeon, Joe Delaney Jnr of treesurgeon.care submitted a report to the Irish state agency calling for more to be done to protect the existing indigenous tree population and encourage the growth of forests via grants. Whilst the government have been slow to adopt all his recommendations, there are a few new programmes that could help resolve the situation.
For example, Forest Service's Native Woodland Scheme was designed to pay farmers to plant native naturalised woodlands. However, according to the experts that may not work. Certain species of trees, such as oak, mature only after 120 years, which won't bring any positive results any time soon. That being said, the measures taken should be used effectively to preserve the species that we have right now.
So, as the inheritors of these woods today, we have to do all that we can to preserve the low percentage of the native trees we have left. By all means, we must do our best to improve the situation and bring back what mother nature gave us. Otherwise, what will we have left? What will we leave for our children? Think about it.