The wrong kind of trees: Ireland’s afforestation meets resistance | World news | The Guardian

Coillte, a state-owned commercial forestry business, started buying land and planting here in the 1960s. Private companies, encouraged by tax breaks, followed. Farm land vanished as Sitkas multiplied. They now number an estimated 34.5m – more than 1,000 for each inhabitant. The trees mature in about 30 years – exponentially faster than oak – and are then felled, making way for a fresh plantation. “The forest closed in bit by bit,” said McCaffrey, a farmer, who now feels surrounded. The trees eclipse sunlight, exude mist and block wifi and phone networks, inducing isolation, he said. “It’s a death sentence for the townlands.” These non-native trees carpet the soil with acidic needles and smother wildlife, said Natalia Beylis, an artist. “A lot of people find them spooky because they don’t have life in them. They’re silent except on the edges.”

Source: The wrong kind of trees: Ireland’s afforestation meets resistance | World news | The Guardian