Local and Global

Cad a dheanfaimid...what happened to our wood?

Local actions have Global impacts.

Ireland has the largest per-capita consumption of tropical timber in the EU!

For centuries native Irish grown wood was the only wood available to the artisan, and those involved in all aspects of construction. In recent years that trend has changed. For well over 350 years Ireland has been a major importer of exquisite tropical woods-our main supplies coming from African countries and elsewhere...

History and Ireland's Forests
The generally accepted estimate is that about one-eight of Ireland was covered by forests and woods in 1600, and an additional amount was composed of land that was barren, boggy, or both. By 1700, the Irish woodlands had been reduced to about 2 percent of the total land area.

A flourishing seventeenth-century timber export trade died out in the early years of the eighteenth century, and Ireland became a timber-importing country.

The collapse of the Ulster rebellion led by Hugh O'Neill in 1603 marked the final stage in the Tudor conquest and opened up the island to more intensive colonisation and economic exploitation. One of the inducements offered to English settlers was the profit to be made from cutting woodlands as part of their civilizing mission.

Forests were the haunts of wolves and Irish rebels that were best cleared. Half-timbered houses in Londonderry and other new colonial settlements drew on cheap Irish oak supplies.

A newly expanded export timber trade sent roundwood, planks, and staves to Europe and, increasingly, to English and Scots markets. Staves were the principal export item. In the mid-1680s, Irish ports shipped over 20 million staves. Irish coopers used native ash and oak to make curved staves and flat headpieces for for barrels, hogsheads and butts. these were shipped to be assembled with willow witches or bands at their destination. The vigorous Irish export trade in provisions-butter, beef, tallow, and fish-also consumed large numbers of casks.
(The above was taken from: The Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World by John F. Richards.)

The following line from an early Irish poem lamenting the destruction of Ireland's forests could very well apply to many countries today where forests are threatened with commercial over-exploitation and illegal-logging.

Cad a dheanfaimid feasta gan adhmad, ta deire na gcoilte air lar.
(What shall we do without timber, all the woods are cut. - English Translation)





..since the Siege of Limerick... Irish timber traders have been importing tropical timber into this country for centuries.

PHOTOS: To the right above is probably the first sample of Cuban “Spanish” Mahogany to come in to Ireland in 1855.
(Note the hand-written comments). Also, the oak logs pictured above were felled by Offaly Co Council during the widening of the Tullamore to Birr road in 2008. Charleville Castle and Estate is in the background.

The following references are of interest:
“The Irish Woods since Tudor Times” – McCracken, E. 1971. Chapter 10 of "Anatomy of a Siege" - Wiggins, K; Pub. Wordwell, 2000, ISBN 1 869857 37 2, refers to the use of imported timber in mining during the Siege of Limerick in 1642.

"Irish Country Furniture" - Kinmouth, C, Pub. Yale University Press, ISBN 0 300 05574 9 and "Irish Furniture and Woodcraft" - Teahan, J, Pub. National Museum of Ireland, ISBN 0 946172 39 0 refer to imports of various woods, particularly mahogany from America.

The earliest reference (for England) for tropical wood is 1661 referring to the use of "Jamaica wood" (Mahogany) for 2 tables and 5 "paire" of stands for Hampton Court. There is also a reference to "Dantzig" oak for panelling in the Mansion House, Dublin, dating back to the 1400's. (Source: Knaggs, G. 2002.)

See Just Forests publication 'A Timber Policy for Everyone' for more on this matter.

That supply of tropical wood is rapidly coming to an end with what can only be described as further devastating ecological, environmental, climatic and humanitarian consequences such as have already been experienced in the Philippines and elsewhere.

Our Attitude towards wood/trees needs to undergo drastic re-appraisal now if this great life enhancing resource is to continue to be of benefit to all of mankind.


Legal Requirements for Tree Felling in Ireland

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food advise that, under Section 37 of the Forestry Act, 1946, it is illegal to uproot any tree over ten years old or to cut down any tree of any age (including trees which form part of a hedgerow), unless a Felling Notice has been lodged at the Garda Station nearest to the trees at least 21 days before felling commences.
A Felling Notice may be obtained from any Garda Station or directly from the Felling Section of the Forest Service of the Department. A copy can also be obtained on the Department's website.
The requirement for a felling licence for the uprooting or cutting down of trees does not apply where:
a) The tree in question is a hazel, apple, plum, damson, pear, or cherry tree grown for the value of its fruit or any ozier;
b) The tree in question is less than 100 feet from a dwelling other than a wall or temporary structure;
c) The tree in question is standing in a County or other Borough or an urban district (that is, within the boundaries of a town council, or city council area).
Other exceptions apply in the case of local authority road construction, road safety and electricity supply operations.
Penalties for illegal felling can be severe, ranging from fines of up to a maximum of €63.49 per tree to imprisonment for up to 2 years. In addition to any fine, which may be imposed by the Court, the Minister may, by Order, require the person convicted to replant.
For further information, please contact Felling Section, Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, Johnstown Castle, Wexford. Tel: (053) 9160170 / 9160174 / 9160175 / 9160181.

Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.
Ringfort Workshop, Rathcobican, Rhode, Offaly, Ireland
Phone: +353 (0)86 8049389  |  E-mail: info@tomroche.ie
Company Registration Number: 612423 This website is an education awareness initiative of Just Forests Ltd Copyright © 2024 Tom Roche (trading as) Just Forests Ltd.