This exquisite photograph from our STABLE CELEBRATES Campaign 2023 was taken in a magical native woodland of oak. It was humbling to stand under the ancient trees and among the moss covered stones. The crew for the shoot were silenced by the beauty and peace. Being able to be among the trees and stop for a moment was a rare and precious experience.
We decided to put this photo as our website banner shot for January 2024 to focus on our natural forests as we feel it’s time to shine a light on our beautiful native woodlands that are found in Ireland.
Sadly, we have only 1.25% of Irish land still covered in natural forest and these can be found all over in small areas. The oldest are found in Killarney National Park.Our Irish native trees found in these natural forest habitats typically include, oak, birch, hazel, alder, scots pine and ash. These wooded areas are magical places to be and support rich and diverse eco systems developed over thousands of years.
As most of the tree species are broad leaf and shed every autumn, they are classed as deciduous. As a result of the annual autumn leaf drop and the natural processes of leaves turning to rich compost, the soil in the forests support abundant smaller plant species and fabulous fungi. Berry fruits, nuts and seeds provide food for a host of animals and birds and us humans too. Our native forests are teeming with self supporting life.
We can learn so much from trees. There is a superb book called the The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate-Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohileben. In this book you can delve deeper into new science based evidence of how interconnected the forest ecosystems are.
With the climate crisis we are facing, it has been regularly recommended that to both combat C02 emissions and help protect native Irish ecosystems, plant, insect and animal life, we need to commit more land to native woodlands. It is happening certainly as farmers and landowners take up the challenge, but many people and experts say, not fast enough. Native woodland planting on previously grazed land shows a remarkably fast adaptation. With deer fence protection for the first number of years, it is surprising how quickly the land, and the natural plant species, when allowed to grow uninterrupted, reclaim the land. This process allows for soil development new natural mixes of plant cover to establish, bringing in birds and insect life. In Ireland we are lucky to have pockets of old natural Irish forest still in existence and accessible.
In Ireland we are lucky to have pockets of old natural Irish forest still in existence and accessible. But a growing concern is the spread of invasive species which are altering the natural flora and fauna and areas of biodiversity. Rhododendron, and Cherry Laurel being the most pervasive, grow and spread and destroy other plant and tree growth under their canopies. Its worth learning more about this and check out @gealicwoodlandproject www.gealicwoodlandproject.com who are a charity organisation fundraising to buy land for native woodland reforestation and who who also do regular voluntary invasive species cut backs meitheals around the country.
We encourage everyone to take a walk in the beautiful Irish woods, look up at the trees, smell the fresh air and listen to the busy sounds around. Find out more check out The Native Woodland Trust; the NWT is dedicated to the preservation of Ireland's remaining ancient woodlands
We at STABLE will endeavour to support Irish native woodland protection and regeneration this year. We will keep you updated of course.
In the meantime check out your nearest native woodland on this map and spend some time soaking up the sights and sounds and crisp clean air.