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native plant and wildlife

Page history last edited by Ian Girdwood 13 years, 12 months ago

Native plant and Wildlife

            Centuries ago, the island of Ireland was once the most heavily forested area in Europe. That is not the case in recent years. Now, hundreds of years later, Ireland is one of the most deforested countries in Europe with only 10% of its land covered by forests. In the few isolated forests the main types of trees are Elm, Birch, Yew, pine, and lots of oak. The rest of the  landscape consists of rolling hills dotted with shrubbery, occasional forests, a year round carpet of green grass, farmland, and peat bogs. To top it off there are nearly a thousand lakes scattered throughout the countryside.

     Spread throughout this terrain is Ireland’s plant life. Until about 10,000 years ago, Ireland as covered by glaciers. Because of this, Ireland has a relatively small amount of plants native to Ireland. There are about 850 species of native plants. Probably the most common species besides for various grasses is Gorse. Gorse is a kind of bush that has bright yellow flowers that freshen up the landscape.


             But in recent years, changes in the way farmers treat their crops have endangered many of the native plant species. For example, a farmer may spray pesticides over his field to keep the harmful insects away. But when it rains, those chemicals run off into the many streams and rivers. Then whatever plants touched by these harmful chemicals will die. There are currently 52 plant species critically endangered in Ireland. 7 species are already extinct. Fortunately, there are a good number of environmentalists already working on this urgent issue.

            The number of native animal species is also comparatively low in Ireland. There are 26 different land animals native to Ireland. Of these, the most common are the red fox, badger, hedge hog, and red deer. The most common animal on Ireland is probably the common rabbit. But rabbits are not native to Ireland they were introduced a few centuries ago. Because there is no top predator in Ireland, animal populations are kept in control by yearly culling. This is when animals, like the red deer, are killed in large numbers to regulate numbers.


            There are few native species that call Ireland home. But of these few is much biodiversity. Let’s just hope that as more and more of Ireland is plowed and developed, Irelands native species will not go extinct.


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