Well almost! As you know, my current ongoing art activity involves documenting sustainable forest management methods. On a recent and too brief trip to Slovenia I got a a clear vision of how our woodland will look after been managed in a ‘close to nature, sustainable way. Doesn’t it look amazing! (mind you, that’s beech pictured, ours will be an ash conifer mix as beech never quite made it to Ireland). At the moment, our 2 acres of Sitka spruce, like the rest of Ireland’s planted monocultures, are dark, quiet places and at best will produce low grade firewood or be reduced to pulp, a shockingly poor return on the best tree growing land in europe. A forest like the one above will not be clear-felled, will produce plenty of firewood and more valuable hardwood by selective logging and will be rich in biodiversity (and I bet everyone will want to spend time in it!).
Slovenia surprised me in other ways too – can you imagine living in a country covered in 60% forest, where the economy is 60% forestry based and over 70% of the forests are privately owned?. Is that why the standard of living is high and more even – there is a resilience in Slovenia in which many countries in the west must envy and if I didn’t focus too hard, the tree covered hills and mountains were the closest thing to New Zealand I’ve come across in europe.
To see more photos of my trip, a trip organised by Pro Silva (latin ‘for the forests’) Ireland, to learn how Slovenia, the founders of Pro Silva manage and grow their forests so sustainably, see here
News: Our spruce woodland is to be thinned in Nov, the first step for it to be managed in a ‘close to nature, way , converting it from a ‘spruce farm’ to a vibrant mixed ‘forest’ … in the clearings we will let seedlings, long dormant naturally regenerate, so expect more pictures of our forest’s first beginnings. Apparently the trick is to leave a good portion of the spruce to provide shelter for the broadleaves, so we should a good woodland in no time at all.