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by | Eco-Conscious Printing, News
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As many of you are probably now well aware, Indigo Ink plants trees across the world through our partnership with PrintReleaf in an effort to offset our clients’ paper usage (read more about that program here). As a geography nerd (and former professional geographer), one aspect of the program that is particularly fun for me is that each month, upon submitting our paper usage information to PrintReleaf, we choose a specific reforestation location to support. We have now planted trees across seven countries spanning four continents. One of these countries is Ireland. Back in 2019, I noticed this reforestation location pop up on PrintReleaf’s list of projects, and to be honest, I didn’t give it much thought or consideration. Besides selecting the location in the month of March, which seemed fitting for St. Patrick’s Day, I rarely contributed to it. When you think about reforestation, images of decimated Amazonian tree trunks and clear-cut hillsides in the Pacific Northwest come to mind. But Ireland? Serenely green Ireland?

After recently talking with my dear friend and talented musician, Susanna Laird, about her trip to Ireland, my perspective on Irish reforestation changed drastically. Susanna and her husband have developed a keen interest in Irish music, culture, history and politics. As they explored Ireland, they saw firsthand the iconic treeless landscape embedded in our collective imagining of the emerald isle. Yet she learned that Ireland was once a densely forested land…and those forests held a deeply spiritual and sacred role in traditional Irish culture. Hearing her tell the story of these special forests—now mostly lost—filled me with a deep sorrow. But along with it, I felt a deep curiosity.

I did a little digging to find out more. I learned that by the end of the 19th century, Ireland’s forest cover had been reduced to about 1%. It had been at a staggering 80% coverage 6,000 years prior. While this deforestation was centuries in the making, the most significant loss came during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1 in the 16th century. According to “The Wolfgang Project” (an Irish social enterprise whose mission is to bring back the forest), there was an antagonistic proverb at the time that “the Irish will never be tamed while the leaves are on the trees.” The Queen of England ordered the destruction of all woodlands in Ireland to deprive the Irish insurgents of shelter…also providing timber for her ongoing efforts to bolster her navy. This brought the forest down to a mere 12% total coverage. The remaining 11% would be lost by the turn of the 20th century to make way for fields and pasture. Fortunately, more recently in the 21st century, reforestation projects have been underway. Their impacts are still being studied, but the loss of forest has been slowed, if not reversed.

Small steps brought me to a new perspective… Sorrow for the loss. Curiosity as to why it happened. New insight on how to ultimately make a change. I now see the greater importance of planting trees in Ireland. It’s a common view to see reforestation as a path to cleaner air, purer water, and a healthier ecosystem. But as Ireland shows us, forests hold a cultural, historical, and even spiritual value to the people who inhabit them. This unique aspect of reforestation has renewed my excitement for the opportunity to make a difference. As of the time this article is published, Indigo Ink will have planted 936 trees in reforestation efforts in Ireland, and we will continue contributing well into the future. Learn more about these efforts here.


Liz Richardson - Indigo Ink Digital Printing

Liz Richardson, Co-Founder
Indigo Ink Digital Printing