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Post details Post   (Contract pics)
padodes
2007-11-18 13:18:42
"Forest by Carrigshouk" from padodes Contract pics
Picture: Forest by Carrigshouk (Contract pics)

Bringing dead wood to life
Thanks simon and dhmiriam for answers to my query regarding forests (“Dead Wood”). They have gone some way towards reconciling me with their rather impenetrable presence. I have no problem with our deciduous forests, except, of course, that there are too few of them. I’m also very willing to accept that our coniferous forests are home to many a contented colony of creepy-crawlies and that the pines themselves prefer to socialise rather than stand aloof in splendid isolation. I would simply make the point that, here in Ireland, we seem to have ended up with a particularly dense and hermetic kind of commercial forestry. Going back to Sweden again, one of the favourite pastimes there is being able to “springa i skogen”: to run in the woods. In fact, when the Swedes invented orienteering, one of the motives that inspired the development of the sport was the desire to put their forest environment to greater use as an amenity. (Another was the desire to remedy a declining interest in athlethics.) Can you imagine cross-country, off-trail running through a Coillte-managed forest? My dream pine forest would be something like an extension of the one in the photo – a stand of pines by Carrigshouk, at the head of Glenmacnass in Wicklow. There is one thing that I will be ever grateful to Coillte for, nonetheless, and it is the undisputed access their forests give to the uplands. In a country like our own, where land ownership has been problematical for centuries and is often treated as an absolute right of the individual to the exclusive personal use of land without reference to the common good, the ease of access through Coillte forests is as close as we may ever get to the Swedish “allemansrätt”, the common-law right of all citizens in Sweden to move freely throughout the countryside (but not, very reasonably, over fields or private land adjacent to habitations, and not without the obligation to care for the countryside, to refrain from damaging trees and bushes, and to dispose of one’s litter properly).
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