Call for a change of mindset on the role of forestry

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A landscape architect said the mindset around the role of forestry needs to shift towards a longer-term view.

Philip J, who is based in Dublin, explained that commercial forest owners should diversify the species used in Irish plantations.

“In my opinion, there is too much reliance on Sitka spruce. It grows extremely straight and fast. It can grow on quite poor marginal soils and so it is preferred because there is a quick turnaround with it,” Philip pointed out.

He added that financial motivations should be put in place by the government to offer an alternative to the clear cutting process.

“Instead of clearing whole areas all at once, if they cut down ready trees but left other trees, and then started introducing hardwoods such as oak or hazel and even pine or birch, these trees could start to bring ecology to these spaces and ensure longevity,” Philip remarked to Agriland.

“It is no longer enough to have forestry and accept it. The public wants to be able to know that there is more diversification of what is actually planted.

The next generation will demand to see tangible moves in tree planting, he added, including what species are planted and how they are managed.

Forestry

Landscape architecture is where engineering and architecture meet ecology. It also focuses on the movement of people through space and how they interact with their environment.

The industry contributes to the design of outdoor public spaces, including parks, cemeteries and even parking lots.

When it comes to forestry, Philip thinks it can be divorced from the public’s interaction with it, adding that everyone should be encouraged to see the different stages of the process.

He pointed to the shifting core concept that the nature you experience in childhood is what you deem acceptable as you grow older.

Carbon credits

In terms of approaching commercial forestry, the landscape architect believes that trees and the soil they are planted on must be considered in terms of their potential for carbon sequestration.

Philip J also believes that the trade and value of carbon credits will continue to grow in the future.

“I think it could be an interesting way to approach forestry and tree planting – as something to plant and leave. Everyone wants to come across as green, but it’s what’s actually done on the pitch that really matters,” he commented.

“The problem is patience and time and the fact that it is not long term. The people who own the land, the people who get pensions, expect the return in the years to come, which is fair enough, because that’s when they expect their return.

“But if we had a longer-term view, we would all benefit in terms of massive timber production as well as the creation of these forests, which would help offset carbon emissions,” Philip concluded.

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