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‘At heart I am a commercial farmer, but agroforestry ticked a lot of boxes for me’

Micheál O’Donovan availed of a grant to plant over 1,000 native trees on an extremely steep 6ac section of his Cork farm. It was an arduous task but there are safety benefits as well as environmental ones, and he can stay connected to the land as sheep graze between the saplings

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‘Passion for trees’: Micheál O’Donovan of Coolbane, Ballinspittle, Co Cork with Eugene Curran and Mark Twomey of the DepartmentAgriculture in his 2.5ha agro-forestry site, recently planted with 1,000 oak, wild cherry and birch. Photo: Fergal O'Gorman

‘Passion for trees’: Micheál O’Donovan of Coolbane, Ballinspittle, Co Cork with Eugene Curran and Mark Twomey of the DepartmentAgriculture in his 2.5ha agro-forestry site, recently planted with 1,000 oak, wild cherry and birch. Photo: Fergal O'Gorman

Micheál says the digger was unable to drive all the stakes on the extremely steep site, so some had to be put in by hand

Micheál says the digger was unable to drive all the stakes on the extremely steep site, so some had to be put in by hand

Micheál's newly planted site

Micheál's newly planted site

The land where Micheál planted is unusually steep

The land where Micheál planted is unusually steep

Micheál with his staked saplings

Micheál with his staked saplings

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‘Passion for trees’: Micheál O’Donovan of Coolbane, Ballinspittle, Co Cork with Eugene Curran and Mark Twomey of the DepartmentAgriculture in his 2.5ha agro-forestry site, recently planted with 1,000 oak, wild cherry and birch. Photo: Fergal O'Gorman

With record low planting rates, a bogged-down licensing system and rock-bottom farmer confidence, Ireland has a huge problem with forestry.

If it’s going to be solved, more farmers like Micheál O’Donovan will be needed.


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