Lack Of Trees In Irish And British Countrysides

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TV documentaries and travelogues reveal a lot of lush "green" in those countrysides but a relative scarcity of trees. Is it climate? Too windy in Ireland? Sheep and/or other livestock?
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On 5/7/2008 3:53 PM, Way Back Jack wrote:

I read somewhere (I think it might have been in Winston Churchill's "A History of the English-Speaking Peoples") that a medieval king of England ordered the planting of oaks so that a later generation might have the raw materials to build war ships. However, trees take up land that might instead be used for crops or pastures.
On my own standard tract lot, I have 14 trees. Some are trees only in name. Three are dwarf citrus and will never be tree-like. But nine of them are truly trees in size and shape.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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My assumption would be the same situation as The Epic of Gilgamesh. In that myth Gilgamesh sets out to appease the God of the Forest and thereby gain immortality. Gilgamesh is a hero of ancient Sumeria, but over the centuries Gilgamesh fell upon hard times. You see, Sumeria's power was based on the manufacture of bronze, which required large amounts of fuel. The original hardwood forests of Mesopotamia offered unlimited fuel, and Sumeria's power was a result of harvesting that fuel to manufacture bronze weapons and tools. But over the centuries the trees were harvested and woodcutters had to travel farther and farther to harvest fuel. This is known as the law of diminishing returns. The original lesson in unsutustainable economics. The Sumerians didn't know about ecology or economics, so an angry God was punishing them for destroying the forest. In the end, Sumeria meets her extinction and Gilgamesh is shown to be a mortal. The god of the forest destroys Sumeria and to this day that region is essentially desert. The Epic of Gilgamesh is the first documented case of a human caused environmental disaster.
The Romans continued the tradition of unlimited military conquest to feed their need for fuel. By that time iron was the metal of choice. Iron required more heat than bronze, and soon the hardwood forests of the Mediterranean were depleted. Because of their proximity to waterways, the British Isles were targeted to supply hardwood for metal smelting. Once the trees were harvested, sheep and goats ensured the forest could not regrow. A large part of the poverty in Europe through the centuries was the result of the stripping of resources by the Romans. Most people are willig to give the Romans credit for building good roads, but in reality those roads would not have been built if there was not fuel to harvest and transport to the smelter.
Ironically, the United States is repeating the same pattern now with petroleum. We have a state-sponsored military that enforces the harvesting of a fuel and we are leaving nothing for them in return. It seems the human race has learned very little from history, and at this rate history will have very little good to say about the United States.
-- Gnarlodious http://Gnarlodious.com /
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David E. Ross wrote:

"O bonny Portmore, I am sorry to see Such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree For it stood on your shore for many's the long day Till the long boats from Antrim came to float it away.
"O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand And the more I think on you the more I think long If I had you now as I had once before All the lords in Old England would not purchase Portmore.
"All the birds in the forest they bitterly weep Saying, "Where shall we shelter, where shall we sleep?" For the Oak and the Ash, they are all cutten down And the walls of bonny Portmore are all down to the ground."
"O bonny Portmore, you shine where you stand And the more I think on you the more I think long If I had you now as I had once before All the Lords of Old England would not purchase Portmore."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnrNYtOsbEg

Portmore Castle was destroyed in 1716. The song dates to about 1745.

--
--
--John
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A few thousand years of human habitation and their domestic animals has greatly reduced the trees. Prior to high densities of humans much of Europe was heavily forested as the gulf stream moderates the temperature considerably compared to similar latitudes in Asia or America.
David
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snipped-for-privacy@home.org (Way Back Jack) wrote:

Long story short, the British built ships with which to conquer and colonize the world.
--

Billy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KVTfcAyYGg&ref=patrick.net

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Billy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KVTfcAyYGg&ref=patrick.nethttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0aEo59c7zU&feature=related

For some reason or other, I had been invited to a high level meeting of a planned economy country dealing with timber products. I had had some previous run in with Minister regarding the load of whiskey in my office and had refused to use it. On the way in the door the Minister asked me how I liked my whiskey.
"I'll take it neat"
For some reason I was placed at the head of the large boardroom table with the Minister at the other. Someone next to me poured a large measure into my glass so I quaffed it down, put my elbows on the table in the manner of - right, now, let's get down to business. I know it now, but did not then, that the culture was; that if the glass was empty, it had to be refilled; but I quaffed that down as well. After some time I realised that people had stopped talking in English and instead used various other languages, which I didn't understand. I started talking Gaelic, but all that could come out of my roundabout brain was an old Irish poem 'What are we going to do when all the wood is gone?...'
To my amazement, the Minister translated the poem into English - there were English bankers at the meeting, and he gave the same explanation for the removal of trees as your good self. When I looked at my glass again, it was full to the brim. I can't explain it but it happened.
I have been experimenting with trees for fuel for about fifteen years and, for the record; Eucl. Viminalis wins by a mile.
Donal
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On Wed, 07 May 2008 22:53:06 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@home.org (Way Back Jack) wrote:

Ireland was covered in trees before the English needed timber to built the fleet that fought the Spanish Armada.
Nik
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On Thu, 08 May 2008 18:21:09 +1200, Someone else

All else being equal, if they cut down every large tree in Ireland for the task (and I doubt they'd need so many), one presumes the smaller trees would have grown to replace them within fifty years, so something more of an explanation would seem called for.
For example farming and firewood, especially as the population grew into the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
J.
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I've not noticed a lack of trees in most of Britain when I've been there. The north western parts of Scotland certainly lack trees and the vegetation of the Burren in Ireland is well known internationally (but not for it's trees). Scotland used to be covered by the Calidonian Forest and had wolves and beaver but I can't recall why it went belly up. Ireland suffered from ice coverage during the Ice Ages so any trees there had to come back as pioneer species.
Large numbers of people, 'modern farming' and trees don't go together. As the population grew the trees would have had to go, or in some instances, 'modern farming' methods were the cause of clearance too. Ireland's population exploded after the introduction of the potato and you can't grow spuds in forests so even if there had been a desire to grow more trees, there would have been a strong disincentive to do so.
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wrote:

Ireland had extensive forest cover well prior to the arrival of potatos in Europe...which, remember, were introduced by Sir Walter Raleigh after he returned from the New World...so you're telling me that in the roughly 150 years between the arrival of the potato in western Europe, including Ireland, from South America, and the Potato Famine of the 1840s that Ireland's population grew so much that it had also become deforested?
Why do you neglect to mention the impact on farm ownership patterns incurred by the Penal Laws?
http://local.law.umn.edu/irishlaw/land.html
Also you neglect to mention that the English desire to build a fleet of warships to fight the Spanish Armada and where they obtained the timber to do so...
You may (or may not) know a lot about Botany but you don't know much about the natural and human history of Ireland.
Nik
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Someone else wrote:

Ireland's population grew to around 8 million. But that had little to do with the state of the forests. Disease and over harvesting of trees were the main causes of the deforestation. Manufacturing, farming, and the monies being made out of harvesting the peat bogs were main causes. (Alas Bord Na Mona, so much for greed). Blaming the British, (English) is merely being paranoid and specious. Britain had more than enough forests of her own to build all the ships she wished!!
--
Hal Mearadhaigh.


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As Ireland had no coal, the needs of 8 million people for charcoal and cooking woulkd certainly damage the forests. Peat was available of course - but only after the forests had made room for it.
If local attitudes to trees were the same then as now, it is surprising that any trees survived at all.
"That tree will knock that wall down - cut it down".
I've heard that sentence so often, it makes me sick.

As far as I'm aware Britain got most of it's marine supplies from the Baltic countries - that trade certainly is mentioned quite frequently in various history books.
Jochen
--

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Limavady and the Roe Valley
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On the other hand, older houses in the countryside are usually surrounded by mature trees planted when they were built to provide shelter. Newer houses are often exposed, in part I suspect because modern materials makes added shelter less necessary. New roofs don't fly off as easily at thatch used to. That said, the choice of tree matters too. Fuschia is a fairly common choice as a border, as are several native hedge plants. Basically I'm in favour of pretty much any tree except leylandii and rhodedenron.
As to the cities, trees cost money, and most developments are thrown up with as few extras as the builders can get away with.

I think you've got it the wrong way around. Often its not so much that they want the house to stand out in the landscape, as they want a view of the landscape from the house.

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Aha, there you go, all *practical* considerations, not aesthetic, which is the kind of thinking I can see screamin out from most (by no means all) of rural irish homes : ) whereas in Blighty, once you've got the house in the country (or even if u were born there) you'd have a job keepin most householders away from the ornamental shrub and tree section of the local garden centre !? It's just that this is one curious little thing that distinguishes the cultures a bit. The 'garden-centre' culture is ultra- rampant in England, and one thing i think the English are second to none on is parks and gardens. Having said that, I'm sure my very rude imputation of horticultural philistinism onto the Irish is somehow deeply flawed...for a start, one of the panel on Radio 4's Gardener's Question Time is Irish, then there's that Dermot Gavin on the telly doing gardens (though he seems to spend most of his time building very ambitious non-vegetable garden architecture), plus my ex-boss from Kerry who apparently knew the Latin and common names for all known plants....

Still, surprises me a bit that more people don't want to see a tree or two ?!?
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For those who think that Ireland never had significant forest cover please see:
www.lhi.org.uk/docs/History_Project_1.pdf
"The first wave of colonisation was by birch, aspen and sallow. About 8 500 BC. pine and hazel spread northwards, replacing the birch, which became uncommon. The pine colonisation was followed by a wave of oak and alder. Lime and elm followed this, then holly, ash, beech, hornbeam and maple."

Who was it that was responsible for that overharvesting?

No, it was always available...

Not if it actually was the British that cut down the Irish forests to build the fleet that fought the Spanish Armada.
http://www.russellmcmurtrey.com /
"Ireland used to be covered with a lot of oak forest until the peak British armada years where much of it was cut down for making ships."
and, interestingly,
http://www.millersville.edu/~columbus/papers/nucci.html
"The Queen gave Ralegh a massive estate in Ireland. He later plundered this Irish land for its forests in order to finance one of his expeditions."
"He exploited the natural resources of Irish forestry to fund his expedition and targeted religious dissidents for settlement in English outposts."

Maybe so / maybe not but the ruling class of Britain still cut down the trees of Ireland.

What? There were substantial Oak forests in Latvia?
For the ships that fought the Spanish Armada?
Wouldn't it have been easier and cheaper to have felled the trees in nearby Ireland?

Which ones precisely?
Nik
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There are more countries around the Baltic than just Latvia.

For the British fleet - when it was still built out of wood - certainly until about 1860. I wouldn't get to hung up about the Spanish Armada - the british fleet was quite small in those days, as were the ships.

I have no idea. I'm sure the procurement agents in those days were quite competent and got their supplies from whoever could deliver the quality and quantity need. The demands of a large fleet are quite astonishing - even for simple things like wooden tackles.
Jochen
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A 'British' fleet at the time of the Armada?
Allan
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Extend my question to include Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden and FInland then...if that pleases you.

I'm not "hung up" about it. I refer in particular to that time period because that is when the Irish forests had a huge amount of damage done to them and I am responding to questions about the deforestation of Ireland...

Well...its closer and the local population, who are the ones that would have been doing the harvesting, were more 'under the thumb' of their British overlords than any Baltic forestry worker....plus the distance that the timber needed to traverse was much shorter...indeed some of the ships were probably built in Ireland itself...

What makes you so confident of that?

No disagreement.
Nik
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You really do have a problem. You answer questions not asked and make repsonses to what you think you read in other's posts that were never there in the first place.
In the instance of the 'question' of the deforestation of Ireland, you are answering a question that were NEVER asked. There has been NO such question except presumably in your own mind! You have decided to take a contrary view to what other people have chosen to post, but your contrariness does not mean that any question has ever been asked nor does it mean that your posts are relevant to the OPs interest.
Reread the OPs post and do TRY (as difficult as you clearly find it) to read for comprehension. Do note especially the subject header which includes more than Ireland.
The OP observed that TV documentaries and travelogues revealed lush 'green' but a scarcity of trees in both Ireland AND Britain.
The OP wanted to know WHY there were no trees and since you seem to have missed the point, the mention of TV documentaries and travelogues places the OPs interest in our current time. It is about the here and the now, not something that took place at the time of the Spanish Armada. The OPs interest also extends beyond just Ireland.
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