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  Cape Clear Tree Group – Meitheal on Saturday 2 March 2013

Saturday 2nd March saw an excellent turnout of young and old alike for this year’s communal tree planting which is part funded by the Tree Council of Ireland. Over 200 deciduous trees were quickly and efficiently set in a suitable area which had been pre cleared by Antony Keogh. The species included alder, oak, aspen, birch and elder. A big thank you to all concerned and especially the younger participants, Araon, Amelia, Fionán, Aodh and Mairtín Óg. Following the planting the area was visited by Michael Donnelly, forester and ecologist representing the ‘One Million Trees in One Day’ initiative which hope to plant 1m trees on 1,000 acres by 22 March 2013. ( Michael was very impressed with the overall plantation and some of the techniques developed through ‘hands on’ experience which he has also been promoting. In particular he complimented the use of locally propagated ‘sallys’ as effective woodland border/ shelter belt trees to allow the cultivation of less wind and salt resistant species. He made various valuable recommendations which we shall be very glad to follow. These included the incorporation of more blackthorn and white thorn as well as holly and elm into the plantation and the sourcing of saplings as locally as possible and ideally on the Island itself. He also showed that our only hazel specimen can be propagated by layering, an experiment which we propose to carry out without delay. As this is along the trail it may become an item of interest to walkers. Interestingly Michael also identified some owl scat amongst the trees so it’s good to know that our efforts to date have improved some habitats. He noted the profuse presence of bluebells ( H.non-scripta), a plant associated with ancient woodlands and consistent with the historical evidence of more widespread tree cover on the Island into the 17th Century. Michael confirmed that the ‘One Million Trees’ project will provide a second batch of trees to Cape Clear Island this year and we look forward to a second turnout by volunteers on the 22 March to see these trees planted. Again, commendations and ‘go raibh míle maith agaibh’ to all concerned.

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