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If We Plant Billions of Trees to Save Us, They Must Be Native Trees

Andrew Nikiforuk

Forests now occupy 11 per cent of Ireland and the country is committed to reaching 18 per cent coverage by 2050 with the hopes of offsetting its growing carbon footprint from dairy farms, vehicles and fossil-fuel power plants.

But most private interests and foresters can’t be bothered to replant what was lost. To date, the vast majority of Ireland’s new tree plantations consist of conifers including Canadian lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) or Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis). Why? Because they grow fast.

Yet industrial monocultures of lodgepole pines have acidified soils and waterways while plantations of Sitka spruce have crowded out native wildlife and created what rural residents describe as “load of crap forestry.”