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Orla Farrell is leading our school project; school children planting trees. She is hugely grateful for all the help everybody and very optimistic we will plant 2m trees by 2020. Easy treesy. Go on to our new website, easytreesie.com for the blog people!
What a Tree-t to be now working full time on this project; on a cruise to our final destination, a national woodland of 1 million trees, in woodlands all over the country.
Thank you to everybody who contributed in so many ways to our great start. See all the latest from today over at www.easytreesie.com, we are going large! Love, Orla
Thank you to all who supported our work this year, You may enjoy this little film here suitable for all ages made by our Green Committee in St. Anne's Park and launched by Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton on National Tree Week in our Junior School building in Baldoyle..
Our plantations include 300 native trees in the Senior St. Laurence NS building , 50 in the Junior building and 300 in Seagrange Park - (during the 2017 Tree Academy working with 8 other schools) as well as further planting this year in Tralee (Munster), North Sligo (Connaught) and we look forward to our Cooley Co. Louth project in the new year (Leinster but Cooley looks over Carlingford Lough which is of course, Ulster; we are in touch with schools there and look forward to joining with them in 2018 for planting projects.) The Easytreesie project has sponsored another matching thousand planted in the Global South in projects such as this Indian school project, in collaboration with Bill Liao's great WeForest initiative. We plan 3,000 more early in the New Year in Seagrange Park, working with other local schools, details to follow. It was great for our school to come first in Ireland in the Eco-Unesco schools competition this year as well as being placed or being regional winners in many similar competitions such as SEAI, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Irish Aid. And thank you to Martha, the Education Officer in Fingal who sent us CASH this week in recognition of our newly-composed song below. We have put it to good use with lots of tree-themed festivity which included a presentation to our composers Dominic and Anna of a tiny Christmas tree and very large Christmas Tree Cake - everyone in Room 5 got a piece! We really enjoyed performing our Christmas Carol - the first one we are aware of to feature a Teacher and school children as the theme and inspired by the Christmas Eve photograph of the Earth Rise which launched the modern environmental movement as well as our heroes, Plant-for-the-Planet founder Felix and Nobel Peace-prize winner Wangari of the Green Belt Movement. Thanks also to Diarmuid McAree, director of Crann and former forestry inspector for Ireland, who came up with the great line, "Grow Your Share of Fresh Air" in our tune, so catchy that several teachers suggested we get it recorded! We may need to talk to our past pupil from Boyzone!
Have a Tree-mendous Holly-days.
Green Schools Co-ordinator
An Taisce Climate Ambassador 2018 - 2019
More info on our project on www.easytreesie.weebly.com and coming soon, our new website at easytreesie.com; we are moving to Wordpress to expand our reach. Tree-mendous.
Earth Rise - Verse 1
Christmas Eve, ‘68; Earth rose like a balloon.
Apollo took a selfie as it orbited the moon.
Viewed from outer space, Earth was a big surprise.
The picture helped humanity start to realise
We’ve a “Goldilocks” position, our location’s quite ideal,
Not too hot and not too cold, we round the sun just like a wheel
No sign of friendly neighbours, the only home around.
We need our planet there’s no other to be found.
(Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm,x2 **************x2)
Around that time in Africa, a teacher called Wangari
Planned an emerald belt of trees to stretch from sea to sea.
A little bit of action cures a lot of doom and gloom.
She asked her friends to help her, soon they’d made the desert bloom.
They grew the trees from seed, they liked to watched them grow.
Bit by bit they anchored soil and slowed the rivers’ flow.
Now instead of hungry cries their land had bees and butterflies
After thirty million trees she won a Nobel Prize!
So grow your share of fresh air -
Show Mother Earth you care!
Find a spot, Dig a hole -
Now we’re on a roll!
Plant a tree, 1,2,Tree -
It’s easy as can be!
Like Apollo 8 we’re on a mission, ours is easy;
1, 2, skip a few... a trillion, Easy Treesie
When Felix was a child at school though he was only 9
He heard the Kenyan story and he thought it very fine.
So Felix thought he’d copy her and soon he had a team
Of children round the world and now we’ve built a head of steam.
Our million German trees are working mopping up the floods,
Our forests down in Mexico fix carbon in the mud.
Around the world our tree machines pull carbon from the air
They lock it safely in their trunks they’re doing the repair!
Earth Rise, inspires to rise to the occasion
Earth Rise calls time for our Co-operation
So Stop talking, Start planting, Stop waiting, Start acting -
Earth’s our common home, we can’t do this alone!
What a TREET to be invited last Friday to be one of the first 20 ever appointed as one of Ireland's first Climate Ambassadors; also of course a big responsibility.
It was a great start to attend the AGM of CRANN in Belvedere House on Saturday. This highly motivated and organised group have an unbeatable motto;
"The right tree in the right place". This approach solves all the problems at once, doesn't it? The questions...".will this tree damage our drains, our footpaths, our walls, cause problems with the neighbours, have to be expensively pruned...." I am greatly looking forward to a meeting with the dynamic Diarmuid Mac Areevy, Ireland's former Chief Forestry Inspector and Director of Crann who will be advising us. Marguerite, Crann's wonderful and positive administrator was happy to accept easytreesie as a new organisation to the membership of Crann (whose President is our President, Michael D. Higgins, seen below admiring the displays at Bloom 2017). "Trees for Ireland" is Crann's tagline; looking forward to a great continued partnership as it is in fact Crann who have been backing many of our planting projects recently with an unseen hand, e.g. Dale Treadwell's visit to us earlier this year! Thank you Crann.
October has brought the shock of Storm Ophelia. Three people in Ireland lose their lives in tree-related incidents and over a quarter of a million people are without power. For the first time since I started teaching in 1981, schools shut due to the severity of a storm (yes, I do remember three snow closures, all however in mid winter). My sister-in-law is in Lanzarote in record 38 degree temperatures as I write while I experienced 28 degree heat in Paris this month. Farmers complain of record rain in parts of the west since the harvest period on RTE's "Countrywide" programme this Saturday, predicting a fodder crisis. Time for Action.
EasyAs12Tree is full steam ahead organising 2 major planting parties of 3,000 and 3,500 native trees at 2 locations in North Dublin in January 2018. We have been getting superb help and advice. I brought our project to Dublin's third Education Startup (for the third time in a row) and received sterling advice and assistance over a packed weekend from my team, the many kind participants and their very many experts who had so many superb inputs. It was a brilliant event from the point of view of being able to validate the idea with so many people involved in education.
Green Schools has set up its Climate Action division and is calling for 20 Climate Ambassadors; they are very happy to know the new ones will be supported by our 50 trained Ambassadors, certified at our Tree Academy in January at our Seagrange Park event out of St. Laurence School. Schools all over the country are starting to hear of our project through the new networks and we have had symbolic Tree Planting Ceremonies in Tralee Education Centre with Professor John Coolahan and his grandchildren along with their school friends, in North Sligo at Ballintrillick and a third is planned for Rampark School on the Cooley Penninsula, postponed due to Ophelia's successor, Storm Brian. During Climate Action week of course we did our bit in St Laurence's, setting up our new EasyAs12"Tree House" H.Q. at our new Green Schools Noticeboard location, making hundreds of Climate Pledges and of course, a planting party; planting 2 native Alders - thank you to the Tree Council of Ireland and their donation for National Tree Day - on a trip to the Baldoyle Racecourse Community Garden nursery. Thanks to everyone for their help, we are "re-leafing" the climate situation one tree at a time.
What a treat treat it was to be one of the lucky group brought around the Millenium Arboretum in St. Anne's Park by the immensely knowledgeable Mick Harford, Senior District Parks Officer, during Irish Heritage Week. Due to the deluge on the planned day, we ended up with two guided walks a week apart; the others were mine of the Tree Trail - bravo to the intrepid smilers-in-the-rain - and a bonus walk through the walled garden.
Mick began the tour by providing us with a glorious map - I am going to laminate it at school - newly put together in his office by a talented young worker - listing the different areas of the Arboretum. The map is laid out in 4-Are sections, (400m square). What joy! It contains an Irish Native Tree area, containing a great collection of trees much more mature than those on the Dublin Tree Trail. This corner will be a favourite of ours on visits with children researching what we will plant. Mick hopes over time to name the trees using GPS which will make identification very simple as physically labelling trees is a challenge. This idea would work so well for our project in Easyas12TREE/Plant-for-the-Planet as we expand the Dublin Tree Trails to new areas and plant our million trees.
Mick provided us with an explanation of the meaning of Botanical Names for trees which he illustrated using people’s names; "Farrell, Orla ; my family name is Farrell. This does not mean I look like all the other Farrells (true). After such a family name, such as perhaps a tree he pointed out in the North American section called, "Robinia" are listed some characteristics such as where the tree is from, e.g. "Pseudo-Acacia" - (like an Acacia). Such names mean that growing things can easily be identified internationally and they often include Latin and Greek elements. When new traits are detected, for example a weeping or variegated form, propagation can lead to the spreading of this new type.
The area now occupied by the Arboretum was once farmland. It contains over 2,000 different trees, most planted to celebrate the millenium of the foundation of the city of Dublin in 1988. Many members of the public sponsored a tree though specific trees were not allocated to a named donor. We viewed the Prunus Pissardii which has proved not to be a great street tree; it has quite a short lifespan. There is a move away from planting all of the same type of tree in one area, it helps to avoid a situation such as when disease hits a particular tree and it then results in all of them requiring removal such as happened with a case of the tree disease fireblight recently. If a group of trees have all come from the same nursery this can mean it is easier for illness can hit them all. Diseased and over aged trees often need removal for reasons such as public safety when they show signs of stress. In high winds limbs may be lopped off for example. People can become very attached to local trees; they may remember a particular tree blooming when a child is born for example (I remember being thrilled to spot cherry blossoms coming out on a tree at our new house on my daughter's first birthday for example!) The council seeks not to upset those attached to particular trees while at the same time not allowing a tree disease get out of hand and having it spread. It was sobering to view some of the very few elms surviving in Ireland following the attack of the Dutch Elm Disease beetle in the 1980s; it will not be known whether a strain flagged as being resistant proves to be so when the trees mature. One way to spot a tree in trouble is when snail trails go up and down tree bark; this tells that there is a pocket with water within the tree and that there may be a potential problem. We came upon such a tree where the recent storm had sheared off a weakened branch. How wonderful to learn that a charity takes charge of the resulting logs to benefit the poor, take a bow Parks Department.
We enjoyed newly recognising a great variety of trees new and old; a red-flowered hawthorn, a variagated elder, (bad luck is associated with bringing the elder flower indoors according to a piseog of old), a prostrate yew. The dogwood. We learned interesting facts; Mick explained that the sticky red juice in yew berries is eaten by birds who then deposit yew seeds in pellets of fertilizer far from the parent tree, helping new trees grow. We observed the spongy bark of the Redwood Sequoia Sempervirens (“always flourishing, green”, the tallest species of tree; though its bark goes on fire the core of the tree is protected in forest fires. In Siberial hundreds of hectares are covered in Birch which is all the one tree. Funguses indeed can travel hundreds of kilometres. We spotted grey squirrels out looking for food but we have no red squirrels in the park. They had done a good job of clearing all but one of the hazelnuts under the coppiced Hazel tree, a procedure very useful for producing commercial timber. Mick answered a question about Ivy; it is the last plant to flower for the bees and its berries are first out for the birds so it is an excellent plant for encouraging biodiversity. We were astonished at the quantity of poplar saplings that had sprung up from the root of a felled poplar. We saw the lovely flowers of the Southern Hemisphere tree, a late source of food for the birds. Since birch trees spread their seeds using the wind they don't need a showy flower. We got to taste delicious baby apples from an ornamental variety.
Mick spoke of the task he worked on of making the park the world-class amenity we are so happy to enjoy today. By raising the crowns of the trees on the Avenue, (pruning the low-down branches), visibility was increased so that those enjoying the park had more light and could see much further. There was a problem around a Horse Chestnut tree where eager children were stripping branches from the new saplings in order to hurl them at a high-up conker which Mick's department most cleverly solved by leaving a pile of sticks from another source near the tree in question. The grass under the new trees was allowed grow long to discourage the saplings being trampled in error. By degrees many activities have been introduced to the park from the running events which were among the first organised public events to take place to the huge variety of activities now happening regularly. We all agree the park is an outstanding amenity which we are very lucky to enjoy and we are very grateful to Mick and his team who put it all together on a very tight budget for us to savour.
I'm really enjoying Niall Mac Coitir's "Irish Trees, Myths Legends and Folklore" book recommended by my neighbour and nature lover, Caitriona as I get ready for a talk I am giving on Sunday at the Dublin Tree Trail.
What exactly is our problem in Ireland with planting trees? This has baffled me and he addresses the reason in his introduction. As he says, "the special place of trees to the Irish changed dramatically over the last few centuries". As the landscape was stripped of trees for shipbuilding and charcoal making, "Irish people became hostile to trees, seeing them as a mark of privilege and the landed gentry. As Austin Clarke put it in his poem..."For the house of the planter/is known by the trees", Aha! So that is it! I should have remembered this. My mother's home on Castle Hyde home farm overlooked long avenues and the "Broad Walk" of magnificent trees on the estate of former president Douglas Hyde, now that of Riverdance star Michael Flatley. We would shelter under them and play all day as children on rainy days. But if my brothers and their cousins were caught on the estate where they would like to climb over the wall to collect peacock feathers, (well that is what they said they were doing but the river Blackwater was an even bigger attraction...or was it the strawberries in the walled garden?) Major Dorman the gamekeeper patrolled with a shotgun and they were warned they might get mistaken for a rabbit!
I've been enjoying visitors from overseas this summer, so many in fact that a marquee was required in the garden at dinnertime. One of our Australian visitors was instructed by her Sydney bowls club to be certain to visit the West, that as far as they were concerned is the place to go in Ireland. Our French visitors had the same goal, "Las Lacs du Connemara" is quite the anthem in France and it is what they want to see. The visitors from the US are today visiting the beautuful new Kylemore Notre-Dame centre in the West. Mac Coitir goes on to explain this phenomenon.
"The rugged, treeless landscape of Connemara was held up as the landscape of the "real" Ireland, just as its lifestyle was held to represent what was authentically Irish. This was unfortunate because beautiful as Connemara is, it is not representative of what Ireland looks like. ...the lush pastures of Meath and Munster (once largely covered in dense forest) are a better guide to the average Irish landscape. The net effect was to create an unconscious idea in many Irish people's minds that heavily wooded countryside is somehow alien and "unIrish". Nothing of course, could be further from the truth" . So everybody, let's return to our "roots" - no more fear of trees, pick a spot for a tree and let's get some in the ground next Winter!
planning for a hundred years hence - educating - for ten years hence -tree planting - for one year hence - our herb project. not bad team easyas12tree!
July is going well...fingers crossed that our films are well received at the National Fís Competition, results will be out in the Autumn. Lots of visitors to Dublin are excited about our project and have been viewing our plantation in Seagrange Park. And best of all, Fingal County Council have added our UN planting project at this site to their programme of works for the coming season. Wonderful.
I am very grateful to all have been contributing to our million-tree for children initiative in the last year, it feels like we are really taking off; thank you all. Anita Foley and her wonderful summer art course participants offered lots of help and advice. It is great to hear this week from our friends in the UK lead by the inspiring and indefatigable Wendy Davis. It is dismaying to hear of the severe drought in South Africa hampering our project in Cape Town and Johannesburg but this news is galvanising when one thinks of the forest fires raging also through France today; destroyed trees need replacement. I have offered to initiate a planting programme in beautiful Carlingford Lough, where I enjoyed a trip on their fantastic new ferry service this week, seen below. There are glorious views of the mountains there; I asked my nephew Ben, visiting from Melbourne and studying Land Management why the trees on Carlingford Mountain looked a little artificial and he pointed out that the planting gave the appearance of being mono cultural and very possibly non-native. We love diversity in our UN Project so there is another reason to embrace difference, a variety of trees looks better! Best wishes to all tree fans out there. P.S. I was talking to some visitors from the US, sitting at the table next to myself and my friend who incidentally has just retired as Principal Teacher and was giving me the benefit of her advice on making our Tree Academy useful for teachers. These charming visitors (somewhat embarrassed about recent US environmentally regressive policy changes - ah well I said, we in Ireland too have much to do to combat climate change ourselves! ) told me of their son who is living for three months with his friends IN a Californian Redwood tree to save it from being felled. Go heroes!
Check out the Dalai Lama's guide to happiness on youtube!
It may look like not much is happening but I am telling everyone I meet about our million tree project and well, quite simply, everyone loves it. I got talking to a lovely young couple and their new baby about gifts for new babies (trees, of course) after everyone on the train carriage started chatting following this incident on Monday, link here to my letter published in the Irish Times today about kindness.
Because what is tree planting only kindness; we go finding saplings, finding a space, digging a hole, a bit of watering and weeding to improve our planet and make it nicer for everyone, not just people but critters too.
Well done the watering team; the pair of Ash trees planted now just a year ago by our retiring Principal, Donal O Donoghue, kindly donated by Evelyn, Plant-for-the-Planet volunteer and Metereological Climate Change expert are being checked here for progress. The Ash Trees were originally planted by Mother Nature; i.e. Evelyn didn't know how they got into her garden; the birds? the wind?
We are putting together school tree trails with the native trees we have on our grounds. Our plan is to use nesting boxes as labels, we are starting with a house for the "Elder Elves" family. We would love a few nestboxes, anyone out there handy with such projects. My brother, a carpenter by trade recommends the Instructions here on the Birdwatch Ireland site or even simpler ones here.
Next task, attacking the weeds! We are very lucky to have a brilliant set of gloves donated by our local Grange Builders Providers so we have no excuse, except that our consultant Dale Treadwell does not mind weeds at all. Also we have loaned our gloves to the 5th class gardening blitz this week. Good luck with your work on the raised beds, please leave a little space for some young trees!