Climate change and the weevil in our midst
We are in grave danger from the imminent arrival of a bewildering new range of pests and diseases. Year round rises in temperature have already facilitated an increase in the numbers of insects that prey on our trees.
The Pine weevil for example will consume five times more bark at 20C as opposed to 10C. Likewise, the Leaf miner moth which arrived in Ireland in 2014 thrives on warmer climates. The Pine processionary moth similarly prospers in milder climes as do a host of others but perhaps the biggest threat to forestry may be from future storms.
These were just some of the issues raised during a recent conference held at Farmleigh House where Coillte brought together national and international forestry and environmental experts to discuss the threats posed by climate change.
The frequent storms and serious flood damage that are now part of a normal Irish winter make tackling climate change a matter of urgency. But first agreement has to be reached on what specific actions to take.
The facts relating to global warming are quite scary but at least international agreement has now been reached towards making some attempt to cooperate in dealing with the issue.
It is well known that forestry can play a large part in reducing our carbon emissions, but perhaps less well known is the massive difference timber use can make. For instance, replacing one cubic metre of concrete or red brick with the same volume of timber can save one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions.
Amazing technological developments have also taken place in the ways we now make use of wood and laminated timber products are being used for the construction of buildings like skyscrapers throughout the world.
These laminated sections have a strength that surpasses steel and given their inherent flexibility, their use can make buildings much safer in areas at risk such as earthquake zones than those constructed traditionally. Modern timber buildings are surprisingly fire resistant and overall safer than conventionally built structures as well as having excellent energy saving properties. On average, building a house in timber instead of brick reduces total carbon emissions by 10 tonnes.