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Environment, Climate Change & Agriculture

Raheens Wood

A woodland of circa 33.0 hectares of which 23.5 is classified as old woodland dating back to around 1840. The wood is considered to be a very good example of a semi-natural woodland, and one of the best examples of native woodland habitat in the general area. The dominant tree species are, Hazel, and Birch with occasional Ash, Oak, Rowan, Grey Willow and Alder. Also evident is coppicing of hazel carried out many years ago.
The ground layer throughout contains a large and wide variety of species. The vegetation is dominated by greater woodrush, bracken, bramble, wood avens, wood sedge, ivy, briar, mosses and lichens. Also present is enchanters nightshade and herb Robert which is conspicuous along the trail corridor. Two noteworthy plant species are found growing within the site namely red campion (Silene dioica) and the lichen lungwort (Lobraria pulmonaria). These two species are relatively uncommon in County Mayo, and indicate the area is a long established native woodland of high ecological value.

Our Native Woodlands

Native woodlands are an important part of Ireland’s natural heritage, history and culture, and are unique in terms of their biodiversity. They are home to specialised woodland animals, birds, insects and plants, including red squirrel, pine marten, great spotted woodpecker, narrow-leaved helleborine and wood millet, to name but a few. They also provide numerous ecosystem services such as the protection and enhancement of water quality (a function that benefits rivers, streams and lakes and their many inhabitants), the conservation of our indigenous woodland genetic resource, quality native wood production, climate change mitigation (including flood control and carbon storage), social, recreational and educational opportunities, and the creation of corridors between semi-natural habitats at a landscape scale.

Carbon Capture by Trees

Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines. They take carbon dioxide from the air when their leaves carry out photosynthesis and store it as carbon in the timber, so big trees are carbon sinks.
Ireland annually emits around 65 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - on average 12 tonnes per person. We can mitigate some of this by planting trees.

A ten-year-old evergreen tree absorbs 14 kg of carbon dioxide per year, so it takes 178 evergreen trees to absorb 2.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Broadleaf trees like our native oak, ash, birch etc grow slower than this so it would take more broadleaved trees to achieve the same result. However, while a broadleaf woodland sequesters carbon more slowly although it may store more carbon long term. It also has more biodiversity. Therefore, both types of tree planting very much have their place in Ireland depending on which is appropriate to the area being planted.

The entire woodland ecosystem plays a huge role in locking up carbon, including the living wood, roots, leaves, deadwood, surrounding soils and its associated vegetation.

The bottom line is, we need more trees and we need to protect the ones we already have.

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