Benefits of Planting Trees

Planting forests has many benefits to our environment.  Trees are either deciduous or coniferous and there are benefits to both.

Benefits of Coniferous Forests

  • Coniferous forests cover a large part of the earth’s surface (approx. 15%), representing the largest land habitat for plant and animal species. They provide food and shelter for animals and humans; provide nature based recreational opportunities; and filter water and they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen for us to breathe. Coniferous forests take 3 times more carbon from the air than temperate or tropical forests.
  • Conifers are some of the largest, tallest, and oldest trees known to science. They provide humans with a source of fuel and timber for construction of homes and buildings. Many items found in a home including furniture, flooring, fittings and fixtures are made from coniferous trees.
  • Conifers are highly adapted to harsh/cold winters as they have leaves/needles which have waxy coatings and slope downward to protect against freezing and to allow any potential snow to slide off. They have a thick bark and use pine cones to protect the seeds in winter. They provide windbreaks and valuable shelter for fauna during the winter months and provide shade during the summer.
  • Coniferous forests are incredibly valuable types of ecosystems in terms of economy. Conifers offer us the majority of the timber we use for building.
  • Conifers provide a green landscape all year round as the majority of conifers do not shed their leaves.
  • Conifers can survive in less fertile soils. They have shallower roots which can suit a more rocky site.

Benefits of Deciduous Forests

  • Broadleaves planted alongside watercourses provides a staggered, natural shading of the watercourse and gives an additional buffer zone which traps sediment and aids bank stability and provides leaf litter and organic matter for the aquatic zone. They reduce sedimentation which could negatively impact the adjacent habitat and associated aquatic species such as freshwater pearl mussel, crayfish, lamprey, twait shad and salmon by reducing visibility, clogging gills and smothering eggs.
  • Broadleaves provide additional habitat and nature corridors for native predator species such as otter, pine marten, bats and birds in an otherwise monoculture dominated systems. They can provide linkage throughout the landscape between other other habitats such as watercourses, grasslands, heaths and other woodlands  They provide a natural change in landscape to complement existing land use and add to the aesthetics of an area.
  • Broadleaves provide additional buffer for any run off from agricultural systems.
  • Broadleaves provide a natural and important flood defence system by stabilising soils and river banks and soaking up water. Strategic planting of broadleaf woodlands can improve water quality and help reduce the risk and severity of flooding.
  • Broadleaved woodlands provide the ideal ‘venue’ for outdoor recreation, with a beneficial impact regarding physical health and mental well-being.
  • Broadleaved woodlands provide multiple opportunities for value added products and services, supporting local employment and economic development. These include high value timber products from rustic craftwork to bespoke furniture, and non-timber products such as mushrooms and foliage. Broadleaf woodlands also provide the venue for visitor centres, holiday accommodation and adventure sports, and contribute to the attract landscape visitors to Ireland seek out.
  • Broadleaf trees and the wider woodland ecosystem, including soil, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, thereby contributing to enhanced carbon storage within the countryside.

Benefits of Mixed Coniferous and Deciduous Forests

  • A well planned mixed broadleaf/conifer forest provides greater habitat and hence species diversity than a mainly coniferous forest and will be more natural looking in the landscape. Research confirms that mature conifer and broadleaf farm forests can reduce both the concentrations of nitrate and the quantity of water draining to groundwater compared to arable and intensively managed pasture.
  • The average rate of carbon storage in Irish plantation forests has been estimated to be above 4 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year.