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The Future is Trees
   

The Future is Trees

The Future is Trees is a Fruit and Nut initiative that seeks to establish long-term sustainable woodland, land rehabilitation and orchard demonstration projects the purpose of which is to provide knowledge and inspiration to others.

Initially, three distinct projects are envisaged. In each case, a long term lease is sought. The leasing body would be the Future is Trees Trust, an education-focused not-for-profit trust.

Nut Trialing Initiative

This project would be the first comprehensive trialling project of nut species to be undertaken in Ireland, and would be expected to make a major contribution to the knowledge base on nut growing. It would draw upon the experiences of nut trialling in the United Kingdom and elsewhere but would be specifically focused on determining which varieties are best for Irish conditions. The species planted would potentially include cobnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, heartnuts, hickory and pinenut. Depending on the size of the site, up to five hundred nut trees would be planted. The project is intended solely for educational and research purposes. However, the nuts would be harvested and utilised.

Minimum area two hectares (five acres). As the project will involve considerable investment of time and resources, the minimum duration of lease considered would be 50 years. Anywhere in Ireland considered but preference would be given to a site within 120km of Westport. The locations most likely to be suitable in terms of climate and distance from Westport are as follows: East Mayo, East Galway, East and South Clare, Limerick, Northwest Tipperary, West Offaly, West Westmeath, Longford, South Leitrim, Roscommon.

The ideal site would be slightly elevated (to avoid frost pockets) with a gentle to moderate slope towards the south or east (or possibly northeast). However all options will be considered.

Please contact the nursery for further information.

Land Rehabilitation Project

This project requires land situated on a flood plain, preferably along the Shannon or another major waterway, suitable for a long term wetland rehabiliation project. In addition to the restoration of some of the site as a permanent wetland, the project would also examine the potential for nut and fruit growing, timber and biomass production, and carbon sequestration, with the emphasis on species with high tolerance of waterlogging.

The optimum size of holding would be four to twelve hectares (10-30 acres). However, a larger holding may be considered. The ideal site would have been used for agricultural purposes in the past, but possibly abandoned (or partially abandoned) owing to increased problems from seasonal flooding. Some of the land should be free from flooding. Vehicle access is preferable but not essential. Minimum length of lease 50 years (a lease of this duration is essential in order to ensure the long term continuity of the project). The nut and fruit aspect of the project would involve up to one thousand trees.

All options considered but preferred location would be Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Galway, Longford, or Westmeath.

Upland Research Project (and Nut Arboretum)

This project will research the effects of woodland shelter on micro-climate modification, natural regeneration and the potential for nut and fruit production (focusing on the hardiest species). The project would also assess carbon sequestration, agroforestry and the possibilities for timber and biomass production. An important part of the project will be a nut arboretum that will contain a range of nut species suited to the location, and will involve up to one thousand trees. A further aspect of the project would examine the potential for extracting wood turpentine from pinus and other suitable species.

The optimum size of holding would be six to twenty hectares (15-50 acres). However, a larger holding may be considered. The ideal site would contain a variety of different slopes, aspects and soil types, with most of the land situated between 150m and 350m above sea level. Exposed sites at lower elevations may also be considered.

Minimum length of lease 50 years (a lease of this duration is essential in order to ensure the long term continuity of the project). The project is seen as a very long term enterprise that with the appropriate security of tenure could continue evolving for at least 500 years and potentially for even longer. It will be the flagship Future is Trees project and is envisaged as a gift from the people of our time to those who come after us.

Preferred location would be Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Sligo or Galway (Connemara) but all offers will be considered. The Trust would also consider land purchase instead of leasing.

Long Term Benefits

The Future Is Trees initiative will offer working models of sustainable agriculture. In addition to food production from tree crops, the three projects listed above will also provide energy (biomass), shelter (for livestock and people), building materials, increased biodiversity, employment and many opportunities for increasing the viability of rural communities in the post-oil era.

Incentives for Landowners

Hassle free, long-term source of income

The upland and wetland projects can utilise land that would be unusable for conventional farming, or which at best would only command a very small rent (for rough grazing). All three projects offer a secure long term return that would be unaffected by changes in agricultural subsidies or in state/EU policy.


Productive and sustainable use of land

Unlike most conventional agriculture, which is highly dependent on subsidies, imported feedstuffs, fossil fuels, artificial fertilisers and other manufactured products, and which in the long term cannot be considered sustainable, all three projects outlined here require a minimum of external inputs, are very low impact and can be continued indefinitely into the future.


Responsible land-stewardship

Agricultural land is a resource essential to the survival of our species, yet it is under threat as never before. Worldwide, some 12 million hectares of agricultural land are lost each year, mainly the result of bad farming practice. With global warming, the rate of loss can be expect to increase exponentially. It is vital that agricultural land is treated as a long term resource that needs to be nurtured, not exploited. And in order for that to happen, there needs to be responsible stewardship. With the three projects outlined here, we are offered a viable model of how that might be done.

Supply of Trees

All nut and fruit trees used in the Future is Trees initiative will be donated by Fruit and Nut Nursery.

Time Frame

It is envisaged that the bulk of the tree planting will be completed within 3-4 years of land becoming available.

Information for Landowners

Interested landowners can find further information here

Enquiries

Enquiries should be addressed to the Projects Coordinator, Andy Wilson.