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article imageGreen Thumbs Up: Giant redwoods coming home to Ireland

By Karen Graham     Nov 21, 2016 in Environment
The Giants Grove project, organized by the seventh Earl of Rosse, Brendan Parsons, plans to create a grove of giant redwoods in Ireland. It will be the largest grove of the giant trees outside California.
In partnership with Crann Trees for Ireland, the Giants Grove project will plant over 2,000 giant redwoods beside the gardens of Birr Castle in County Offaly.
Sequoiadendron giganteum, also known as the giant redwood, is found growing naturally only in groves on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. They are the world's largest single trees and largest living thing by volume. Giant redwoods can grow to a height of 50–85 meters (164–279 feet) and 6–8 meters (20–26 feet) in diameter.
Two giant sequoias  Sequoia National Park. Note the large fire scar at the base of the right-hand tr...
Two giant sequoias, Sequoia National Park. Note the large fire scar at the base of the right-hand tree; fires do not typically kill the trees but do remove competing thin-barked species, and aid giant sequoia regeneration.
According to Lonely Planet, the project will also act as a tribute to the Irish who have left the country over the years, allowing the public to sponsor trees in dedicated places in the grove. The project will give GPS coordinates to sponsors so they can locate their tree in the forest.
The Earl of Rosse told Lonely Planet, “This project is very close to my heart. Our grandchildren, their grandchildren, Birr, Ireland and the world will benefit from this magnificent forest grove. These will be the biggest trees in Ireland and the largest collection outside of California, fittingly here in Birr in a place which has the biggest tree house in Ireland and also had the largest telescope in the world for over 70 years."
And while the grove of giants is supported by the estate and other groups, they are also looking for public support. The Giants Grove will actually be a homecoming of sorts for the redwoods. The trees were once abundant in Ireland but were wiped out following the last Ice Age.
Giants Grove
Perhaps more importantly, the project is a grand attempt to save the magnificent trees from the ravages of climate change. Rising temperatures and the resulting lack of coastal fog in California has led to a measurable decline in the giant redwood's health.
There are other stress factors that environmentalists are concerned about, such as land development and human encroachment. Added to this, recent studies have indicated the redwoods are crucial in their ability to fight climate change. So by ensuring their survival, we are ensuring ours.
From an environmental standpoint, Ireland is doing the smart thing by working to maintain its forest cover in the light of a changing climate. Ireland will get warmer as the world warms, and by planting the redwoods now, the country will have viable and habitable forests already in the making.
Giants Grove
In the photo above, taken by Dougie Macdonald in April 2007, we see the very impressive avenue of Giant Sequoias at Benmore Botanic Garden, near Dunoon in Argyll, Scotland. Planted in 1863, these giants soar over 50 meters high.
The project will take place in two phases, the first one beginning now and the second commencing in the spring. Both phases involve planting giant coastal redwoods as an inner copse, surrounded by more robust giant mountain redwoods. The project also plans on planting some native trees, such as holly trees to encourage biodiversity.
This project is deserving of a Green Thumbs Up because Ireland is showing the rest of the world that it is now the time that we start looking at conservation with an eye toward developing strategies that will enhance our environment.
More about giant redwoods, California, ireland grove, Climate change, green thumbs up
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