Trees: From Seed to Sawdust – Episode 9 – Ash Die Back, where there is life there is hope

In this programme we meet Mick Power, National Estates Manager with Coillte with responsibility of biotic risk. We meet in the beautiful Castlemorris Woods in Co Kilkenny where a mixture of lots of different trees flourish and grow. In an area within the woods is an enclosed 2-hectare site which is the clonal bank for ash die bank resistant trees. These trees were gathered from places all over Ireland and continental Europe and have been planted in these woods and so far, 40% out of 600 trees gathered are still healthy.

The loss of ash from our hedgerows and fields is massive from an environmental point of view. It also impacts on an important part of our culture – hurling and the making of hurls. There is a demand for 360,000 hurls annually in Ireland and this industry is important to support. This programme features Tom O’Donohue a 4th generation hurley maker from Drakelands Kilkenny. Tom talks about the importance of the Irish ash, the unique softness of the wood that makes it easy to work with and the potential evolution of bamboo and carbon fibre hurls.

So as the industry keeps its fingers crossed for the continued good health of the ash die back resistant trees, Mick Power calls for all of us to be careful in relation to moving organic material around the world. As our climate changes the trees in Ireland could become more susceptible to other pests and diseases that could cause further damage to our woods and forests.

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