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The dynamics of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in Europe during the Holocene have been spatially and temporally complex. The species underwent extirpation and reintroduction in several north-west European countries. This study investigated the late Holocene vegetation history of a present-day pinewood in western Ireland, to test the widely accepted hypothesis that P. sylvestris became extinct in Ireland c. AD 400. Palaeoecological, chronological and loss-on-ignition analyses were conducted on a sediment core extracted from an adjacent lake. The pollen profile showed no major Pinus decline and a Pinus macrofossil occurred c. AD 840, indicating localised survival of P. sylvestris from c. AD 350 to the present. The available archival maps and historical literature provide supporting evidence for continuity of forest cover. The hypothesis that P. sylvestris became extinct in Ireland is rejected. The implications for ecological management are significant. We argue that P. sylvestris should be considered native to Ireland, at least at this site. As Ireland’s only putative native P. sylvestris population and the western limit of the species’ native range, this site is of high conservation value and must be carefully managed and monitored. Seed-sourcing for ex-situ forest restoration must be compatible with the long-term viability of the population in-situ.

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