What was your journey in setting up Hometree – when and what inspired you guys to lean into it?
The journey came from my first tree planting day experience back in 2013 with the public when I was setting up a community garden with two friends. It was amazing to see that so many people have never planted a tree, but it never been taught in schools, or by my parents. It was physical rewarding and help me feel a lot of meaning and connection to nature, I wanted to share this with as many people as possible so we set up a charity that was based on connecting people with nature specifically planting trees.
What are Hometree’s main visions & focus with the work they do?
I work is divided into ecological impact and education. A vision would be to see a lot more of Ireland planted with native woodland and maintaining an ecological way that was about creating a permanent habitats for wildlife.
What does this time of year bring for Hometree? What’s happening at the moment at HQ?
Lots of ground preparation, planting the saplings that have been pledged through the website and by the public. Working with farmers and landowners and children discussing tree planting and how it can benefit the different lands.
What’s your favorite thing to spring from setting up Hometree so far?
We work in such an exciting area, so many people enthusiastic about landscape restoration and habitat creation.
What can people do on an individual level to help the work that you do?
It all depends on the particular skill set, and if they have the resources to put towards something like this. There is so many ways people can support habitat creation through fundraising digging planting or sharing their skills in different ways.
What has surprised you since setting up Hometree?
What are the main challenges faced by Hometree?
I suppose it comes down to fundraising. I believe with the right things and access to land there is so much that is possible.
A lot of the saplings you and all the gang are planting will mature after your lifetime – what are your thoughts/hopes/feelings on this?
The work that I am doing is based on a particular problem, so it’s just working towards solving something challenging.
You and Ray O’Foghlu have co-written and recently released a book “Under Summer Pastures – Explorations and Essays From Ireland’s Temperate Rainforests”. Do you have a favourite line or concept that you’d like to share?
Mark Boyle – Ultimately, Leopold urges us to protect what is left of our wild places, arguing that ‘wilderness can shrink but not grow,’ and that the ‘creation of new wilderness in the full sense of the word is impossible.’ These places are rare, and what is rare is precious. In Ireland what is rare and precious is our temperate rainforests, which are thought to be more threatened than tropical rainforests—no mean feat. The little that does remain is in a poor state ecologically, damaged by surrounding industry, agriculture and conifer plantations, and fragmented by roads and human habitation. One of the biggest threats is from overgrazing by goats, deer and sheep, who no longer have a natural predator. If we have sense we’ll do everything we can to protect and restore what we do have left, as once they’re gone we’ll never see them again. If we need inspiration, we need look no further than Eoghan Daltun and the ‘thirty-two acre tangle of Sessile Oak and a dozen other wild native species, all dripping with epiphytes’ which he has restored in the Beara Rainforest in county Cork.
With very special thanks to Matt for your time, your efforts and your words!