Trinity College Dublin hosts their 13th annual Green Week from the 16th to the 20th of February this year, and we are all encouraged to “Go Green in 2015!” Sustainability on campus and as a research direction is very important to the University and this has inspired our Green Week exhibition currently on display in the Berkeley foyer. A selection of titles shows the use of silviculture, or forest management, in Ireland from the 12th century up to early state forestry in the 20th century.
Early written references to tree planting in Ireland date back to the late 12th century when Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) described yew trees planted about churches and cemeteries for ornament and shelter. From the 16th century, an increase in industry and agriculture resulted in the decline of woodland and forest areas. Forest management was necessary to sustain future demand and pamphlets and books were published on the subject.
The first major work on the topic of Silviculture in Ireland was written by Samuel Hayes, who forested his own estate at Avondale, Co. Wicklow in the 1770s. His ‘A practical treatise on planting; and the management of woods and coppices’ (Dublin, 1794) was written for the Dublin Society and encouraged the preservation of woods and the extension of plantations.
Extensive demesne planting occurred on Irish estates in the 18th century. Originally formal layouts were preferred, but with the introduction of ‘natural style’ landscape parks in the 1740s planting increased to achieve ‘natural’ woodland features. The “Vale of Ovoca, from the Octagon House” (top) shows dense plantations on the hills that provided not only an aesthetically pleasing view, but also an annual income of £600. More scenic landscapes can be seen in ‘Picturesque Sketches of some of the finest Landscape and Coast Scenery of Ireland’ (Dublin 1835).
State forestry began in Ireland in 1903 and the first forestry school was established at Avondale, the former estate of Samuel Hayes, in 1904. Today the objective of the Forest Service is that all timber produced in Ireland should be derived from sustainably managed forests.
For more on Green Week activities in the Library check out the alerts page. Selected items from the collections will be featured on this blog throughout the week.