PHOTOGRAPHED IN AUGUST 2023
It has taken me a few weeks to get around to processing this series of images.
The 17th and 18th centuries show the largest decline of forests and woodlands in Ireland. The invention of the blast furnace in the mid-16th century permitted the production of iron and glass on an industrial scale, which required large volumes of charcoal. This resulted in a large amount of forests having to be coppiced or felled. The demand for timber was further increased for use in the construction of ships and buildings, as well as wood for the tanneries. These all contributed to forest decline.
By the beginning of the 20th century, around one percent of the country was covered in woodland, so the State began a re- afforestation programme. The aims of this programme were primarily to establish a forest resource that would supply Ireland’s timber needs and, latterly, to develop a viable national timber industry. This afforestation effort consisted mainly of the planting of coniferous tree species, such as Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), Norway spruce (Picea abies) and Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi).
In 1996, the Government published Growing for the Future, which set targets for the forestry sector to 2035. It established that, in order to reach a scale of timber production large enough to support local industries, the national forest estate would need to increase to 17% of total land area by 2030.
In 2019, Coillte, the state owned forestry business, launched its not- for-profit branch: Coillte Nature. Its aims are: to reforest Ireland by planting new native woodlands on un-forested lands and mono species plantations; to restore important biodiversity areas by improving habitats; to regenerate urban forests; and to rehabilitate ecosystem services by bringing sensitive or degraded lands into better health across Ireland.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of St Anne’s park are the avenues of fine trees, which originally framed the main house. Notably the long and wide East/West Avenue is planted with Holm oaks (Quercus ilex), Monterey pines (Pinus radiata) and Austrian Pines (Pinus nigra). There are several other avenues framed with yews (Taxus baccata), horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocatanum), Holm oaks or Monterey pines. Another feature of St. Anne’s Park is the extensive planting of holm oak. This species, resistant to sea wind, was selected by the Guinness family to act as a shelter belt along its coastal boundary and along the boundary of the park. It was also Lord Ardilaun’s favourite tree.
The Naniken River flows through the park and its banks are dominated by large and mature beech (Fagus sylvatica). Adjacent woodlands contain Holm oak, Monterey cypress, yew, and horse chestnut, as well as self-seeded trees, including wych elm (Ulmus glabra), ash trees and sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus).
Woodland species, such as wild garlic (Allium ursinum), Hart’s-tongue (Asplenium scolopendrium), lords and ladies (Arum maculatum), lesser celandines (Ficaria verna) and primroses (Primula vulgaris) can be found in the field layer during springtime.