It seems that everyone in Leitrim hates forestry. It is dark, damp and dead, they say. And I do get that angle. To live in a house surrounded by forestry means much of your natural light is blocked by ominous regiments of trees. There are poisonous chemicals - used to fertilize the forests - polluting our waterways. And many more arguments against forestry which can be found at www.saveleitrim.ie and on the Save Leitrim facebook page.
In an article I read in The Irish Times today a local woman is quoted as saying "Everything is dead in there. There is nothing living.” To which the journalist added: 'Nothing, that is but foxes and carrion crows that come out to hunt.'
It is true that younger forestry is impenetrable - the close planting and low branches making it impossible to walk through. But as the trees get taller - closer to the date of them being felled - I think that the forests become more interesting and accessible. Here and there a tree has fallen, a little cave beneath its exposed roots, the light that streams in allowing other plants to grow. The ingress of more light means mosses grow in thick layers cushioning rocks and stumps, ferns and ivy tangle by little pools and there is other life - pine martens and red squirrels, badgers and foxes. Deep in most forestry are crumbling stone walls and the remains of houses which add to the haunted atmosphere down the dim passages of Sitka Spruce. It is very quiet and the wind does not penetrate - like a strange stage set, waiting for something to happen.
I love these forests and these otherwise unloved trees. They are the shadow of Sitka Spruce temperate rainforests that once covered the West Coast of Canada. Rather than agreeing with most objectors that all forestry be replaced with indigenous trees, I wish some forests would be only partially felled leaving the biggest, healthiest trees to grow each time - so that, one day, our great-grand children would have such rainforests as part of their heritage.