28 December 2023
By Bryan McCarthy
Hometree site will showcase how trees can be integrated into existing farms
A not-for-profit organisation working to establish and conserve permanent native woodland in Ireland has secured its first site in County Cork. Hometree has purchased an eight-acre site near Donoughmore thanks to support from a local donor.
The site will be used as an educational facility to host school and college groups as well as a showcase location for professional farmers to see the ways in which they can integrate native trees into intensive farming systems.
Cork native Ray Ó Foghlu is Hometree’s Farm Programmes Coordinator. He said, “Some of the best land in Ireland is in Co Cork, the heart of dairy country. It isn’t feasible for farmers to block out whole areas with trees. However, there are a variety of ways of integrating native trees that actually work for the farm system and we will be using our new location in Donoughmore to demonstrate the advantages. It can simply be planting lines or groups of trees in corners of fields or scattering individual trees throughout the pasture. Native trees have mutual benefits for the environment, for water quality and for biodiversity. There are also benefits for cattle who can shelter under the trees, they can also browse the foliage which gives them minerals they can’t get elsewhere at different times of the year.”
Hometree is based in Co Clare and has ambitious plans to restore 4,000 acres of wild woodland along Ireland’s west coast. Historically, up to 80 percent of Ireland was covered in wild forests of birch, pine and oak. Today only one percent remains and fragments of rainforests cling on in gullies, cliff faces and secluded islands. The Wild Atlantic Rainforest Project will stretch from Cork to Donegal over eight sites.
The nature restoration charity now has a full-time seed collector. Arborist Jeremy Turkington visits remote valleys, sheltered hollows and ravines along Ireland’s west coast to collect rare and ancient seed specimens. In recent months he has picked Guelder Rose berries in the Gearagh in North-West Cork.
For more information about Hometree visit https://www.hometree.ie/