For a nation such as Ireland that has long prided itself on its natural beauty, learning that we have the lowest level of forest cover in Europe is somewhat surprising.
ou would be forgiven for thinking it was a miscalculation, as you never really have to travel very far to find a wooded area in this country.
The fact is, these might simply be the wrong trees. Most of the forest we have are used solely for commercial purposes, which does nothing to help create the biodiversity our island needs.
It was not always this way, and restoring our forest cover to the level it once was is an essential step in our fight against climate change. Planting trees (the right trees, at least) is one of the most crucial steps in this long journey, particularly given the fact they remove carbon dioxide from our atmosphere simply by being given space to grow and remain healthy.
There was a need for an organisation to take control of creating new native woodlands, and The Nature Trust is already leading the charge. Originally announced as an ambitious initiative from Coillte and Forestry Partners, their goal is to restore Ireland’s woodlands to their former glory.
By carefully collecting large quantities of native tree seeds and planting them in nurseries in Wexford, two years of preparation have gone into work that is now getting underway. Together with their partners in AXA Ireland, they aim to plant 600,000 native tree saplings over the next two years and invest in lands to plant these new woodlands.
As part of ongoing efforts to provide carbon neutral car insurance, AXA Ireland was the very first funder of The Nature Trust’s ambitious targets. Once they are planted, they will immediately begin the essential environmental process of sequestering and storing carbon.
Turning over a new leaf
Less than 12pc of Ireland is under forest cover, and of that only about 2pc is native woodland. When compared with the European average of 37pc, you get a better understanding of the task at hand.
Both businesses and individual people all share a responsibility to take action, and it’s in everyone’s long-term interests to look into opportunities to contribute. Only through further investment in organisations like The Nature Trust will we be able to combat this worsening global crisis.
Something that should not be overlooked is the fact Ireland is blessed with the perfect climate to facilitate tree growth. Far from a pipe dream of trying to transform Ireland into something it isn’t, restoring our woodlands to what they once were will benefit the population for generations to come.
These woodlands will be open access; a reason for us to see for ourselves the native forests that have sadly become such a rarity. A wide range of plants and animals will be given the opportunity to thrive, and efforts will be made to protect them from potential threats, natural or otherwise.
Once planted, The Nature Trust will continue to monitor and inspect the woodlands they create. When it comes to the unpredictability of nature, long term management will be crucial to ensure a successful outcome.
Having such exciting large scale projects taking place right on our doorstep is also quite a rarity. As important as it is to contribute to similar work all over the world, it’ll provide a much-needed boost to get us back out to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty this country has the potential to rediscover.
Make a change that matters. To find out more about Carbon Neutral Car Insurance from AXA, click here.