Mossy Earth's new reforestation project: reversing history in Ireland

by Matt Davies February 16th, 2018

A new reforestation project

Mossy Earth is partnering with a brand new project in Western Ireland. We are very excited to tackle a new challenge to bring back wilderness and resilient ecosystems to different places in Europe. So what’s the deal with Ireland and trees?
Boat building with Irish trees

A Shadowed Past

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

Ireland was once the most densely forested country in Europe. Legend has it that a squirrel could traverse through the tree canopy from the North of Ireland to the far South without ever touching the forest floor.

Sadly, it was these rich woodlands, particularly the robust oaks that were prized by England for the construction of its cathedrals, the reconstruction of London after the Great Fire and its naval fleets between 1600s – 1800s. Large areas of old growth forests were decimated by the English and never replaced.

To compound the situation, any remaining woodlands were often left in the hands of ruthless English owned estates. For any Irishman caught foraging among these ‘privately owned’ trees, they were tortured or even executed, which culminated in a deep-seated fear and suspicion of trees, which can still be felt across Ireland today.
Sitka Spruce Plantation Ireland

Ireland's Modern History

Today Ireland has 11% tree cover but only 2% is natural forest.  

Ireland has witnessed a misguided reliance on non-native monocultures of conifer species driven by lucrative government incentives to reduce carbon emissions.

 These monoculture forests have had a negative impact on Ireland’s environment: such forests are not only devoid of wildlife, but cause soil acidification, create excess sediment in rivers and these lucrative plantations price small farmers off the land. In the last 20 years, Ireland has also lost about half of its high-status sites including its best rivers and lakes famed for their Atlantic salmon, freshwater prawns and mussels.
Tree Planting Ireland

Intervention: 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.

Working closely with our partners in Ireland, we are committed to planting the right trees: non-invasive, native, mostly pioneer species such as Willow, Alder, Birch Scots Pine, Rowan ‘mountain’ Ash, Holly, Blackthorn and sessile Oaks.
Horn Beam Tree Ireland

Intervention: The Right Management

We are also planting in the right place: across 60 hectares of abandoned yet fertile agricultural land in the treeless County Clare, in the West of Ireland.

And the right management: We and our partners promise that the trees will not be sold or clear felled. The trees are planted for native forest restoration. 

The Project's Goal 

By contributing significantly to the 30,000 trees required to reforest this mystical corner of Ireland, we aim at increasing biodiversity in the area by building a resilient forest of native trees. In addition to improving environmental sustainability in the area, the project will also showcase agro-forestry practices as an alternative to classic agriculture and monoculture forestry.

Our Partners

The land is owned and managed by Moy Hill CSA farm. It is a partnership run by Fergal Smith and Matthew Smith both are permaculture farmers, keen surfers, and passionate about tree planting in Ireland. 

 Their commitment “Is to plant trees that are to be enjoyed by all, humans and animals alike”.

To contribute to this amazing project, go to our project Foraois page