Susbsidised spruce plantations cover vast tracts of the Irish countryside. They don’t offset carbon emissions and are driving bird species to extinction
We all love trees. We think of woods and forests as green lungs, peaceful spaces, brimming with wildlife. So when Europe’s least forested country, Ireland, sets a target to increase tree cover from 11% to 18% by 2046, we should all applaud, shouldn’t we? Unfortunately the new woodland rising across Ireland is an ecological dead zone. Sitka spruce plantations, hectare upon hectare of them, now cover what was once nature-rich farmland. Dense blocks of these non-native coniferous trees smother the landscape, driving out wonderful and endangered wildlife such as hen harriers and curlews, birds that could be extinct in Ireland within the decade.