Crowning glory? Coillte, the ecological emergency and regenerative forestry

Driving through North Cork from Ballyhooley to Glenville, you cannot help but note the huge swathes of monoculture conifer plantations, what I once heard described as ‘slave trees’. These non native species like Sitka spruce, are planted in mechanically spaced rows for ease of harvesting, with no regard to their health or the biodiversity within which they might have evolved, except as these relate to productivity and profitability. An industry whose base is the topography and climate within which profits can be reaped with a…