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Teagasc Forestry featuring on RTE television tonight

10 Things to Know About… Trees

Can planting trees help us to reach our climate targets? The television series “10 Things to Know About…” returns today, Monday, November 13 at 8.30pm on RTÉ One, with presenters Kathriona Devereux and Jonathan McCrea travelling the country to meet the researchers working on some of the most important challenges facing society - including breeding more climate-resilient and disease-resistant trees.

When it comes to trees, Ireland has deep roots. Forests once covered a massive 80% of Ireland’s land surface and there were laws protecting certain trees. Characters in early Medieval Irish alphabets were named after native trees; and who would want to cut down a Hawthorn tree for fear of angering the faeries?

However, today, forests only cover 11% of the country. With a drive to increase that figure to 18% by 2050, the government views forests as an essential element to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 … but is 18% of Irish land enough? In addition, as we still need timber for construction and furniture making, how do we balance our forestry needs?

In this episode we discuss how better land management and land planting trees is an essential part of our climate goals, we meet the researchers who are breeding trees to create better quality timber and tackle devastating diseases like ash dieback, and reflect on how literature can shape our views on trees and nature. In Curious Chronicles, presenter Fergus McAuliffe reveals the fascinating origins of the silent tree guardians of Ireland’s graveyards.

Dheeraj Rathore, a forestry tree improvement Research Officer at Teagasc appears on tonight’s episode. Dheeraj’s research work focuses on breeding different tree species for suitability and adaptability for deployment in Irish forestry.

“One of my research objectives is to breed ash, a native tree species to Ireland, for dieback disease tolerance. Research shows that between 5 to 10% of trees will have good tolerance to ash dieback disease, and with support from national and international partners, I am working towards finding those trees and bringing them into our breeding programmes”, explains Dheeraj.

Oliver Sheridan, also a forestry tree improvement researcher with Teagasc adds: “Our two native species of birch, silver and downy, were not considered suitable for commercial forestry because of their poor stem quality and poor survival and growth rates. Teagasc research to date has brought about the commercial supply of improved downy birch through the establishment of a partnership between Teagasc and a commercial nursery, None So Hardy Nurseries, ensuring that a sustainable supply of improved birch is available for deployment in farm forestry”.