Monday, 9 June 2014

Our Ash.

What is happening to our Ash Trees. They are falling ill with such speed. Its not Ash Dieback!, At first it seemed like Antracnose, a fungal disease that strikes them often now. However this time it seems to be killing them, so many look thin, defoliated, they are a light sickly green and many, many of them seem to be dying now, including old trees that looked healthy just last year.
Please go out into the country, drive slowly and look out for them. Sadly their present state will show itself almost immediately. Its incredible that so few seem to notice this; the death of our old green companions!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Hedge Destruction.

1. Hedges being removed in bird nesting time, near the Dublin Road, near Kells, County Meath on Saturday 3rd May.2014. This is part of the massive destruction and defoliation now taking place across our land. This destroys habitat, food supply, resting and nesting sites and it removes the look and beauty of our land too. It is not what a modern European land should be allowing, especially one supposedly building a smart economy. The little land reclaimed from this, must be considered against the monetary cost and the destruction and problems this will also cause in the long term. The smoke is from burning foliage. Can this be legal???

2. Sad.
Well it looks like some heavy hitters have came in to help me on this, finally, so will there be a prosecution? Definitely? Well no, just maybe! That’s how it is here. However even if there is, this was still just one field, along one road we happened to be travelling on, in one county, on one day. Had we driven down other roads, on other days, in other counties, we would have seen a multiple of this too. It is happening everywhere. Sad too that when in contact with government departments there is such lack of precise knowledge on what is happening and allowed. On the new farm measures introduced by Ministers Coveney and Hogan in 2011 in particular, there is only confusion. No one seems to know the parameters of these or guidelines. This was foreseen and warnings were issued about the cumulative effects of these measures when they were introduced but these warnings were ignored. These warnings made clear that these measures would in time lead to the destruction of our countryside, now that is precisely what seems to be happening.
On this above matter I was told that the felling of trees always needs a license but if hedges have no trees in them, then it is different, “If they are just a line of bushes etc”.  I pointed out that all hedges are made up of trees; Blackthorn, Whitethorn, Elder, Ash etc, so do these trees have no protection? The answer was yes, then no, finally maybe! What is scrub if not trees growing free?  Also on the current opt out clauses there is only confusion. The Forestry and Wildlife Acts have them; “in the normal course of forestry and farming, under health and safety, road building” etc,… but there is little if any clarity on these either. These seem to open the doors to a free for all in felling etc. This may go some way to explaining why so few if any cases of illegal hedge and tree felling are followed through or come before the courts. Sad indeed that our attitude to our environment has become so convoluted, even at official levels. 
I believe that it has been convoluted purposely, especially by the politicians that house themselves in these departments. The fragmentation of environmental (and Heritage) care, away from the Department of the Environment, into different departments, enables this confusion and so it is seen as normal. It makes hedge and tree clearance easier, something businessmen and farmer lobbies want. Farmers are now the major destroyers of our environment with regards to water quality, foliage removal, one off house building etc, and their political lackeys seem duty bound to obey them, not the reverse as it should be. Sustainability and the common good has become a laugh and this must be considered true.
Sad too that so many groups and individuals, who claim affinity with trees and their care, step aside or refuse to answer basic questions when these problems arise. In general nearly all refuse to help. 
This points either to arrogance or to a change in our ancient affinity with our land; Ireland. I deeply believe that the modern Irish are not the friends of nature or trees anymore, unlike in the past when we held them, and our land, in reverence; even if we so desperately pretend otherwise still. We push a false green image and we seem destined to do this to the death. The Irish in general now help destroy their own land, they aid this ecocide simply by indifference and this won’t have a nice end. 
Like in the fields of economics and child care etc, we will be eventually found out and exposed for what we really are! It may take an environmental nightmare for this to happen, but happen it will. Perhaps the outbreak of mass tree death due to fungal or bacteriological pathogens spreading through the remaining mangled hedges, now without their natural protective barriers may do it. It may be the appearance of insect borne diseases, infecting humans due to bird populations falling, but ultimately this will happen. Then we will answer the questions; asked perhaps by our unfortunate children.

So no, it did not go to plan as it should.
On Saturday May 3rd, I stopped to watch hedges and trees being removed and destroyed near Kells Co Meath. This was in nesting times and so I believe illegal. It was large scale, using bulldozers, and the burning foliage was visible from the road. I took photos of all this and on Monday I informed all government departments concerned, as we are constantly being told to do. The answers I received by those who answered became so convoluted that it seemed they wanted to confuse things and so slip away. I was repeatedly told that a felling licence was needed but... was it really happening? The National Parks And Wildlife Services; the government agency that is mandated to check illegal tree felling were told on Monday morning too, by email and with good directions to the site; they answered me today, on Thursday morning:
“ Hi John
Thanks for your email in relation to hedge/tree cutting along the old N3 at Kells. As far as I am aware the area you are talking about the trees/hedge were cut before the 1st of March and therefore outside the remit of the Wildlife Act which protects nesting birds. Section 40, 46 of the Wildlife Acts protect nesting birds for 6 months of the year (1st March to 31st August) and hedge cutting is prohibited, although there are some exemptions. If the material is being burnt now this would possibly be a Local Authority issue (Air pollution)? Tree cutting does come under the remit of the forest service for 12 months of the year and a felling licence is usually required, not sure if this would apply to this issue? Although the ranger that covers this area is on leave at the moment if you think growing trees/hedges are still being cut at the site I could investigate the issue.
Annette Annette Lynch, CR
National Parks and Wildlife Service, Government Buildings, Athlumney, Navan, Co Meath, 

Mobile 086 8050242
Well by now they are probably finished with the hedges there and the contractors have moved onto the next hedges probably, secure in the knowledge that nothing will ever happen, reported or not. I have photos and witnesses that they were cutting these hedges, removing these hedges with bulldozers, on Saturday, May 3rd. We witnessed this. It was easy to see and would be still I hope, if anyone bothered to go and look! Yet here again is a Government Department reusing to do their most basic work. Last week on Morning Ireland, on this very issue, a Government minister, insisted that if illegal hedge and tree felling is happening then people have a duty to report it to the Department of Forestry, Tree`Felling Section, to The National Parks And Wildlife Services and the Local Authority etc. I did all this and I am told it is not happening. And how do they all know this; well because they have no one prepared to go and investigate it, they are on leave; that’s how.

Monday, 27 May 2013


Kells Felling.
Passing part of the old Headfort Estate, along the Dublin Road close to Kells at Easter 2014, I noticed a new construction site where a large number of mature trees had just been felled. These were beautiful healthy trees, all on the site perimeter and their felling was unneeded. They were also felled in bird nesting time, something that we are told should be strictly controlled and discouraged. The Department Of Agriculture informed me later that “Felling License, FL15642 was issued, for the felling of 25 trees in order to facilitate the construction of a primary care centre and that the relevant district Forest Service Inspector assessed the application from a silvicultural and environmental point of view. Meath County Council were also contacted. It seems sad, even amazing that this still goes on. Why build a primary care centre over a mile from the town centre, especially when much of the town centre lies derelict and empty? What possible silvicultural and environmental point of view can explain the unnecessary felling of trees, except to get rid of them. How long can our towns spread away from their empty shells before they too lose the ability to recover? It seems that the old habit of placing development over sustainable planning, nature conservation, beauty or the look of our land is as secure as ever. Only climate change perhaps, can change us?

Ash Die Back.
Chalara fraxinea, is a disease of Ash trees that causes leaf loss, crown dieback and almost always leads to tree death. Ash trees suffering from this infection have been found widely across Europe since trees infected with this newly identified pathogen were reported dying in large numbers in Poland in 1992. It has been widely know that it was spreading about since 2002. In Denmark it has been reported that half the ash trees there have died due to this pathogen. These have included forest trees, trees in urban areas such as parks and gardens and also young trees in nurseries. In February 2012 it was found in England, in a consignment of infected trees sent from a nursery in the Netherlands. Since then it has been found in a growing number of locations all across England and Scotland. All of these sites had received stocks of young ash plants from European nurseries within the past five years. In October 2012, English Forestry scientists confirmed a small number of cases in East Anglia, in ash trees not associated with recently supplied nursery stock. It is now widespread and the UK authorities say it cannot be contained.
It was found in Ireland in October 2012. Since then it has been spreading and has now been found in many places across the Island of Ireland. Our hedges contain much ash and many of them are already infected yet the reckless unneeded mechanized cutting of these hedges continues; by our local authorities and by Government financed farm schemes and these looks certain to spread this disease fast across our land. For if a flail flails one hedge and then moves on to the next one and if just one plant is infected, how can the spread of this pathogen be either seen or avoided. Appeals for a stop to this have been made but they fall on deaf ears and indifference....and so Ash Dieback spreads and spreads. We loose more foliation; vital for life and for our future.

How did it happen. Ask how this damaging diseases spread through Europe might have been curtailed and you’ll open up a can of worms that raises troubling questions about the nature of free trade and its potentially devastating consequences for national plant biosecurity. Prof Clive Brasier, the highly regarded British plant pathologist specializing in tree diseases, neatly summed up the dilemma by describing it as trade at any cost, arguing that the UK’s independent plant health controls have been sacrificed in the interests of EU membership. Pointing to the dramatic increases in the frequency of damaging plant pathogen importations over the past decade, he suggested that the UK is now in danger of losing much of its historic tree and forest heritage. His blunt conclusion was that the European plant security “door” is, quite simply, off its hinges. Fionnuala Fallon. The Irish Times. Saturday, October 13, 2012.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


October 2012. If we lose our trees then we lose our bird populations; they cannot live on the ground. If so then insects have a free run. If only a tiny percentage of them start to carry blood borne pathogens into humans by bites etc, as they are increasingly doing to animals, then we also lose our smirk and grin. Such diseases have the possibility to harm us like no terrorist bomb ever could. Life on earth suits insects best and they seem destined to win the bio-struggle. This too has long been predicted. Many "simple" indigenous people, adored insects as being divine. Many modern scientists predicated this too, but they were silenced by industry and political correctness; constant relentless growth; either economic or among human populations was considered divine instead. But in about 20 years if the older warnings become reality; we will have to change. The ground work has already been done and the results just takes time. Then will we see the reality? Without us; without the swarms of unthinking destructive people, Gaia will slowly recover and she will work well with the smaller many legged things. Man is the pest!

I received this from English Forestry yesterday:
“The disease cannot spread at the moment. The scientific expert group concluded last week that it spreads either from spores on the leaves travelling on the wind, which only occurs over the summer, or through infected stock.” The latest information is available on the Forestry Commission website at:

And then there’s this; the root cause of all ills; reckless human population growth!.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Tara Beech
                                     Tara Ash Stand

                                     Tara Young Ash In Hedge That Was Cut.

Listening And Wondering? 
Just now I am listening to Drivetime; RTE Radio 1. Its mid July 2014 and we are in the middle of a heatwave. They are talking about heat, drought and how cattle make for the cool shelter of the hedges as the day heats up. Poetic stuff, RTE stuff, for city people maybe... but what possible shade and shelter from the sun can animals find now in our hedges, sheared and stumped as they are by our governments misnamed environmental schemes. How can such hedges provide shade or shelter or safety for anything now; either birds, wildlife or cattle. How can they hold water at their roots and base, as they always did, thus ensuring against drought, how can they provide shade for anything, even humans as they did for centuries when allowed grow and billow out naturally? Is it not time to beak another taboo and expose this hedge cutting/hedge destruction as environmental madness?
Clauses. Listen in as our politicians, waffle on about how Ireland has the best environmental safeguards in Europe, how they have people on the ground, how so much is protected etc. Listen in often as they quote the restraints included in both our Wildlife and Forestry Acts, the two primary pieces of legalisation we have for environmental protection. These acts do have a lot about what you cannot do; but seldom do you hear about the opt out clauses, the pieces of writings on what you can do! These "opt outs", are tiny and written in legal speak and are inserted into these acts for the sake of farming and business. They allow just about anything be done, if done “under the normal course of farming, forestry, road building or under health and safety needs”. Such clauses are small, hard to find and often difficult to understand, yet they are so broad in practice that they have the effect of making all the other stuff about restraint, care and safeguard, null and void. This means that in reality there is little if any protection for natural wild growth, habitat or the things that needs this. So we ae really allowed to cut, remove and flail with glee!

Consider these: A huge oak tree, 300 years old, healthy, disease free and standing 30 meters from a building is protected under the 1946 Forestry Act and must have a protection order placed on it, while a person who wishes to fell it, seeks and obtains a felling licence. Or it can be felled under the normal course of farming, without question. It can also be felled if the remains of a hut is nearer it than 30 meters to it, as such are in most cities and towns. It can also be deemed unsafe and felled at will. That huge Oak tree in reality is at the mercy of anyone’, thats our law.

FSC. A wood, billowing out green and full of both nesting birds and protected wildlife in reproduction times is covered and protected by our Wildlife Act 2001. It is protected to a degree that should make us proud; but it too can be felled if done under the normal course of forestry. Nothing can be done about that. Coillte for instance did just that at Lismullen in 2011. They also use the FSC certificate when selling the wood, a certificate that proves the wood was felled and harvested in an environmental way.

Hedges. Hedges; old, healthy and the repository of much of our flora and fauna are habitats of immense value. They are a means of soil and water retention, they provide shade and shelter, food supply, nesting and resting places and they give our land the green look it is re-known for. They too are protected under both acts but these too can be removed under the normal course of farming or under health and safety laws. Indeed a whole landscape of these can now be removed totally, incrementally and yearly, if done under the New Farm Measures introduced by Irish Government Ministers Simon Coveney and Phil Hogan in 2011. This is considered now as a normal course of farming!

An avenue of great Beech Trees can be protected and cherished by everyone, but they can be removed too by a developer who buys the property they stand on, if he can find someone who determines that the trees are diseased. That person needs no qualification other than to term themselves an Aborist. He needs prove “diseased” to no one. A training and degree in Arboriculture does not exist in Ireland and it seems it never will. Such a study might hinder all of the above from happening. This happened all through the Celtic Tiger everywhere.

Tree protection orders can be placed on trees of importance and they sometimes are but again many of these trees are subject to the above clauses and can be removed as fast as the protection orders can be removed, if deemed unsafe etc. The National Botanic Gardens have been doing this regularly.
The Emerald Isle; that’s us!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Ash Die Back.

Ash Dieback has been in Europe since before 2002. Most tree people knew and that it would spread too; fungal diseases do that. They expected though, that European governments would treat such an environmental threat with urgency. The reverse happened and so the disease has spread. Recently the UK authorities have held a series of crises meetings and belatedly promised to do all possible to halt or slow it. Tony Kirkham, of Kew Gardens, has said that a complete ban was needed on imports of any plants that threatened a species, and a one-year quarantine was needed for all plants coming into Britain. Prof Clive Brasier, a UK plant pathologist specializing in tree diseases says the problem is “trade at any cost” and pointing to the dramatic increase in damaging plant pathogen, he said that the UK is now in danger of losing much of its historic tree and forest heritage because “the European plant security “door” is quite simply off its hinges”.
EU leaders though have remained as quite as mice about it all.
Despite what is happening borders remain open, free trade and free movement continues and the future of our ecology is imperiled as never before.
Imagine if the UK does manage to hold Charala Fraxenia at bay but are then faced with its spread from Southern Ireland, how do we answer that? In reality we are recklessly endangering our land and in the borderless world we live in, the lands of others too. The misnamed Reps scheme is a good example; it is a scheme in which our government pays farmers to mow their hedges down. They are doing this even now, despite the disease, and this is leaving row after row of broken mangled stumps where our old hedges used to be. Ash is a common plant in our hedgerows and Charala fraxenia has been found in Ireland, but in these flailed and mangled hedges it cannot be seen or noticed. The open wounds make ideal entry points for fungal spores and if a flail goes through one infected plant then it can spread the disease as it goes along. Under these conditions the spread becomes inevitable. Our government has also decided to import Ash timber regardless.
Ash were the Bile trees of antiquity, they fill our myths, they were held sacred once and the Fir Bile was an old name given to us. They make up about a third of our trees. Their loss will cause environmental damage on a scale never before see. It will affect habitat, bird populations, water retention and the look and feel of our land for decades to come. Defoliation causes climate change and will even affect our ability to breathe, yet in comparison to England we are almost silent about it, we remain ignorant and almost indifferent to the growing list of destructive pathogens coming into Europe, and into our land too; eventually. The model we follow is wrong and we have to change!
All hedge cutting must stop, all trade and movement must be controlled and our environment must be placed in the position of priority it deserves. Essentially we have to place the health and future of our land above the EU’s, mad open bordered dogma!
It is wrong to behave as though we do not need nature, it is wrong to hand our children a nightmare, it is wrong to allow the profits of a few to endanger all. Our politician have been informed about this, they all know; but they do little or nothing!
For decades Irish people have been kept in the dark about the dangers of environmental destruction, most have chosen ignorance and have elected politicians who promoted ignorance; and now these dangers, so long warned about and ignored, are here.
Please copy this, email it and post it on.

Photos: Ill Ash Trees In County Meath. October. 2012.