The black space and Ash dieback news in Ireland


My experimental film ‘The black space (resilience) of the Ash night’ (2013) was recently selected for the 2013 UCD Science Expression film festival. The film was shown with others in a mobile pop-up cinema to celebrate and reflect on the natural world. It was held at the Botanic Gardens, Dublin 1-3 Nov. My thanks to Alex Boyd  and Laura Tobin  from UCD for selecting my work.

Unfortunately since I made this film in late January we have now had outbreaks of Ash Dieback disease in native Irish Ash trees. It is a very tricky situation as the fungus can be spread by the wind. See this recent Irish TV News report here  It is a worry for Hollywood as much of the new regeneration are Ash trees but many of the aspects and the severity of disease remain unknown (see UK Ash dieback link below). But it is also confirmation that we need to move to mixed species forestry urgently. We also need to reconsider the trafficking of monocultures across nations too and support instead own nurseries and species. This winter I will be adding other tree species to Hollywood to increase the diversity and resilience of Hollywood.

Anyone seeing any signs of this disease are to immediately call the Irish Forest Service. Some friends with Ash trees were asking me about felling trees in advance to prevent spread to their plantations but all tree-felling needs a tree license. In the first instance, the Irish Forest service needs to be contacted if you have any concerns.  Here is an information pdf issued by the Forest Service ashdiebackdisease pdf

Image from Forest Service 2012 Information booklet on identifying Ash dieback disease

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 10.03.03

Notes on the film:

there is something deathly about the night. It is hard too when looking at these young Ash trees not to think of Ash die-back disease and the decimating effect it will have for Ireland’s most common native tree.

The ‘dark’ also in general terms, signals the blackness that is engulfing the earth’s non-human living communities due to the now globalised, ecocidal violence of industrialised culture. A culture that little acknowledges that it is causing the disappearance of an estimated 150-200 species each day, an unprecedented rate of destruction not seen since the dinosaurs disappearance millions of years ago, and an unprecedented predicament of unimaginable scale, that one species, our own, is threatening the viability of life on earth this century.

But this small forest growing in the shadow of Mt Leinster, Co. Carlow, naturally regenerating and diverse, does have genetic and environmental resiliencies… particularly if we tend and thin the trees – overcrowded trees are more stressed and more likely to be susceptible to disease and pests, ever increasing threats now with climate change

so there is something oddly reassuring about these young trees at night … all that quiet, relentless growing, in the cold, wet dark, amongst the brambles and Alder; supported in turn by the vast networks of decay and recycling by the microbial communities in the dark below


I took these shots very late at night,  during late January 2013, in Hollywood, a permanent close-to-nature managed (non clearfell) forest, in south Co. Carlow. Hollywood is part of the ongoing COFORD Irsh Forest Council research project on new low impact silvicultural systems

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