Saving our wood and trees


Sir, – The prospect of the State selling off the Coillte forestry harvesting rights has provoked anger, and justifiably so. The major sawmills could face closure as a result and public access to our forests might be restricted.

But trees are more than just crops to be harvested like turnips or cabbages. They have been the friends of humankind since remote antiquity. They serve as the lungs of the planet, inhaling carbon dioxide and exhaling pure oxygen.

They add immeasurably to the beauty of our natural environment. They provide a haven for birds and a vast range of wildlife species. And their protective branches have drawn many a man, woman and child in search of shelter. Who hasn’t dashed to the nearest tree to avoid a ducking? Imagine a rural landscape with no trees? It would be a poor sight indeed. One of my earliest memories is of legendary tenor John McCormack singing on radio: “I think that I shall never see . . . a poem as lovely as a tree”.

In some cultures a tree represents the point at which Earth touches Heaven. In former times people worshipped trees. Psychics claim to be able to perceive in them a living presence, and whatever one might think of such beliefs, many of us would agree that these majestic guardians of the countryside have something akin to a spiritual ambience about them.

In the words of the famous Joni Mitchell song: “Don’t it always seem to go . . . that we don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone.” I hope this won’t be said in decades to come of a priceless cultural and environmental asset: that politicians sold off part of our precious woodland heritage . . . while Ireland slept. – Yours, etc,


Lower Coyne Street,


Co Kilkenny.