Ancient Woodland

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Ancient woodlands are very rare in Ireland. By ancient woodland in Ireland we mean woodland that has been continuously forested since 1660, this date is shortly after the Cromwellian land confiscations of the seventeenth century and several surveys carried out around the 1650s would have identified land ownership and land use.

Ancient Woodlands of Ireland

Woodland only covers around 6% of Ireland in comparison to a European average of over 30%. The history of trees in Ireland can be seen of one that has been continuously declining since the arrival of the first farmers in the neolithic period.

Land clearance for agriculture would have been the principal reason for clearing forests and the decline in woodlands continued right through to the Plantation times of Elizabeth I of England when settlers from England and Scotland cleared forest for agriculture, shipbuilding and export of wood as a natural resource.

Again, woodland declined in the 18th and 19th centuries due to intensive population pressure that culminated in the Great Famine.

The 20th century saw the afforestation of many regions with conifer plantations that created a further decline where native woodlands were shaded out by the dense, fast-growing commercially planted trees.

Now, ancient woodlands are recognised as an important landscape and many are protected and even being extended with careful management strategies.

I really enjoy photographing in woodland, be it ancient or new but I do prefer forests with native woodland species such as birch, alder, oak, elm, beech, ash and hazel among others and the sunshine breaking through the canopy adds interest to the forest floor. It can be challenging with too much midday sun but I also find wet, grey days good for photography in woodlands.

To book a photography workshop in an Irish woodland Contact Us.

Darren McLoughlin

Irishman and International travel photographer in search of the best bits of Ireland. Leading photography tours and experiences in Ireland.

Contributor to New York Times / Sunday Times / Irish Times / Echtra Echtra and Eonmusic

Cancer survivor.

Ask me about travel in Ireland or about photography in Ireland.

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