|Releafing Ireland with Broadleaf Woodlands|
by Jan Alexander - President
"Crann" is the Irish word for tree. It is also the name we chose for the organisation which was founded in 1986 to help bring broadleaved trees back into Ireland. Crann is a non-profit organisation which has membership of around 1000 to date.
Crann was formed with a backdrop of Irish forestry consisting of mainly age class softwood plantations, coupled with total reliance on imported hardwood timber to supply Irish furniture manufacturing and joinery needs. Most foresters I spoke to at that time would ask, "Are you talking about broadleaved trees or commercial forestry ?" - the words "commercial" and "broadleaves" seemed incompatible. Broadleaved trees were seen as purely for amenity purposes. At the same time, most environmental organisations were concerned with stopping the efforts of others rather than promoting an alternative. Crann was launched with the ethos of promoting something positive - that of releafing Ireland with broadleaved trees.
President Mary Robinson at the inaugural tree planting at the Oak Glen site in Co. Wicklow. Oak Glen is a project initiated by Crann.
Over the 15 years since we started out, we have been involved in and initiated many educational projects with schools; urban tree promotion and tree planting; events to raise tree awareness and local initiative forestry and woodland projects. We have run woodland management training courses and seminars. Currently we are involved with a hedgerow management initiative with other NGOs. Crann tries to work with all those involved with trees, forests and woodlands, seeking always common ground.
Due to the small population base in Ireland raising funds for an NGO such as Crann is not easy. We receive some help from the EC through the Forest Service, and we also work with the Corporate sector on various projects. Our core funding comes mainly from membership. We produce a colour magazine entitled ‘Releafing Ireland’, published quarterly, which is self-financing through advertising.
Although our main thrust is to see broadleaved trees back on the commercial agenda here in Ireland, we do promote woodland conservation in its own right also. However, with Ireland relying almost entirely on imported hardwoods, we feel the main priority must be:
1) to reintroduce, on a meaningful scale, the growth of hardwoods in both the private and public sector and
2) to highlight the environmental damage and abject poverty created by the importation and use of tropical hardwoods.
We promote Close to Nature forestry systems and have a good working relationship with Pro Silva Ireland which was formed in the last two years.
Crann works with craftspeople and furniture makers who use Irish hardwoods; however our membership list has yet to include the same proportion of joiners and furniture manufacturers, as does Woodland Heritage. This is inspirational and certainly an aim for us in the future.
We greatly admire the work being done by your organisation, and are pleased to have reciprocal membership with Woodland Heritage. Let’s hope we can co-operate at every opportunity to help releaf these islands and perhaps help halt the exploitation of other countries of their life-sustaining timbers.