A newly planted tree against a background of tree planters

Foraois

Reforesting Ireland, the land of the Gaels
A newly planted tree against a background of tree planters

Foraois

Restoring the Great Forest of Caledon
TREES PLANTED
800
TONNES CO2 SEQUESTERED*
Not yet known  
TREES PLANTED
800
TONNES CO2 SEQUESTERED*
Not yet known  

Project Summary

Ireland was once the most forested country in Europe. Today it has just 11% tree cover, only 2% of which is native forest. We are working together with a local permaculture farm to reforest a 60 hectare property in an area that currently has no wild forests.

In 2017, we partnered with Hometree and planted our first batch of 200 trees. Since then, we have planted a further 600 trees. Our focus for this project has been to find one large business partnership to plant the whole area with up to 40,000 trees.

A tree planter carries supplies
Saplings in a wheelbarrow ready for planting
A planter bends over to asses the soil
A young sapling held up against the morning light
Tree planters busy at work

Tree species

We plant willow (Salix spp.), alder (Alnus glutinosa), birch (Betula spp.) Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), holly (Ilex aquifolium), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea).

Priority species

Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), pine marten (Martes martes), brown hare (Lepus europaeus) are all present in the area.

Twinflower (Linnea borealis), black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix), golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), Scottish crossbill (Loxia scotica), pine martens (Martes martes) are all present in the area. 

A duck swims in a tranquil stream

The Right Impact

“We would like to see the right trees, in the right place with the right management, but what we have in Ireland is too much of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the worse kind of management”

– Finton Kelly, Natural Environment Officer

The Ecosystem

The land of the "Forest People"

The Irish, descendants of the Gaels, which means forest people, have worshipped trees longer than they’ve believed in God.

Centuries of deforestation for agriculture and timber have reduced Ireland’s once extensive native woodlands to small, isolated remnants. Old native woodlands can still to be found in areas of thin soils unsuitable for agriculture, but today, the country is known for its landscape of open, green pastures instead.  

A woman sands in the planting area

Project Summary

Ireland was once the most forested country in Europe. Today it has just 11% tree cover, only 2% of which is native forest. We are working together with a local permaculture farm to reforest a 60 hectare property in an area that currently has no wild forests.

In 2017, we partnered with Hometree and planted our first batch of 200 trees. Since then, we have planted a further 600 trees. Our focus for this project has been to find one large business partnership to plant the whole area with up to 40,000 trees.

Tree species

We plant willow (Salix spp.), alder (Alnus glutinosa), birch (Betula spp.) Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), holly (Ilex aquifolium), blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea).

Priority species

Hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), pine marten (Martes martes), brown hare (Lepus europaeus) are all present in the area.

“We would like to see the right trees, in the right place with the right management, but what we have in Ireland is too much of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the worse kind of management”

– Finton Kelly, Natural Environment Officer

The Right Impact

The Right Impact

“We would like to see the right trees, in the right place with the right management, but what we have in Ireland is too much of the wrong trees in the wrong place with the worse kind of management”

– Finton Kelly, Natural Environment Officer

The Ecosystem

The Ecosystem

The land of the "Forest People"

The Irish, descendants of the Gaels, which means forest people, have worshipped trees longer than they’ve believed in God.

Centuries of deforestation for agriculture and timber have reduced Ireland’s once extensive native woodlands to small, isolated remnants. Old native woodlands can still to be found in areas of thin soils unsuitable for agriculture, but today, the country is known for its landscape of open, green pastures instead.  

A lush forest with a carpet of wildflowers

A threatened habitat

What makes this ecosystem special?

Ireland's native woodlands are mostly made up of colourful broadleaf trees like oak, ash, alder and birch. A healthy, thriving forest provides vital habitat for a diversity of flora and fauna, including great spotted woodpecker, narrow-leaved helleborine, wood millet, red squirrels and Ireland's rarest native mammal, the pine marten.

A red squirrel stares down the camera lens
A pine marten sits on a carpet of moss at night
A hare leaps into the air
A northern harrier flies low over a meadow

The Story

The Gaels, London and the Empire

Ireland was once the most densely forested country in Europe. Sadly, these rich woodlands were decimated by the English and never replaced. Ireland's woodlands were exploited for the construction of English cathedrals, the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire and British naval fleets between 1600s – 1800s. The few remnants of woodland that persisted were often left in the hands of English owned estates and any Irishman caught foraging among these them would be tortured or even executed. This culminated in a deep-seated fear and suspicion of trees, which can still be felt across Ireland today.

In response to legal requirements to reduce carbon emissions, the Irish government is primarily funding the planting of non-native conifer monocultures. These monoculture forests cause soil acidification, create excess sediment in rivers and are often devoid of wildlife. These lucrative plantations also price small farmers off the land.

Uniform and even aged conifer trees cover the landscape
A drawing of an English shipyard

A history of deforestation and land clearance

A man stands in the planting area

Restoring the forests of the Gaels at Moy Hill CSA Farm

A threatened habitat

What makes this ecosystem special?

Ireland's native woodlands are mostly made up of colourful broadleaf trees like oak, ash, alder and birch. A healthy, thriving forest provides vital habitat for a diversity of flora and fauna, including great spotted woodpecker, narrow-leaved helleborine, wood millet, red squirrels and Ireland's rarest native mammal, the pine marten.

The Threats

The Threats

Ireland was once the most densely forested country in Europe. Sadly, these rich woodlands were decimated by the English and never replaced. Ireland's woodlands were exploited for the construction of English cathedrals, the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire and British naval fleets between 1600s – 1800s. The few remnants of woodland that persisted were often left in the hands of English owned estates and any Irishman caught foraging among these them would be tortured or even executed. This culminated in a deep-seated fear and suspicion of trees, which can still be felt across Ireland today.

In response to legal requirements to reduce carbon emissions, the Irish government is primarily funding the planting of non-native conifer monocultures. These monoculture forests cause soil acidification, create excess sediment in rivers and are often devoid of wildlife. These lucrative plantations also price small farmers off the land.

Project Map

Project Map

Sources & Further Reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

1. "Forestry in Ireland: the Reforestation of a Deforested Country" - R O'Hanlon 2012 - The Forestry Source - rohanlon.org 

2. "Can the mid-Holocene provide suitable models for rewilding the landscape in Britain?” - KH Hodder et al. 2009 – British Wildlife - Vol 20, Issue 5 –  bournemouth.ac.uk 

3. Pine marten (Martes martes) distribution and abundance in Ireland: a cross-jurisdictional analysis using non-invasive genetic survey techniques" - D O'Mahony, C O'Reilly and P Turner 2012 - Mammalian Biology - Vol. 77, Issue 5 - Science Direct 

4.“The reintroduction of the white-tailed sea eagle to Ireland: People and wildlife”E O’Rourke 2014 - Land Use Policy Journal - Vol. 38 – Science Direct  ✅

5. For more information on Ireland’s forestry, listen to the BBC’s podcast Costing the Earth – Future Forests.

Sources & Further Reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

1. "Forestry in Ireland: the Reforestation of a Deforested Country" - R O'Hanlon 2012 - The Forestry Source - rohanlon.org 

2. "Can the mid-Holocene provide suitable models for rewilding the landscape in Britain?” - KH Hodder et al. 2009 – British Wildlife - Vol 20, Issue 5 –  bournemouth.ac.uk 

3. Pine marten (Martes martes) distribution and abundance in Ireland: a cross-jurisdictional analysis using non-invasive genetic survey techniques" - D O'Mahony, C O'Reilly and P Turner 2012 - Mammalian Biology - Vol. 77, Issue 5 - Science Direct 

4.“The reintroduction of the white-tailed sea eagle to Ireland: People and wildlife”E O’Rourke 2014 - Land Use Policy Journal - Vol. 38 – Science Direct  ✅

5. For more information on Ireland’s forestry, listen to the BBC’s podcast Costing the Earth – Future Forests.