Cedar tree at Adare Manor, Adare, Co Limerick, from Carsten Krieger and Aubrey Fennell’s Heritage Trees of Ireland, published by Collins Press. Photograph: Carsten Krieger/Tree Council of Ireland

As I type these words, I’m listening to the far-off, sawdust-laden buzz of a chainsaw as it slices up the splintered remains of a mature beech (...)