Forest Friends Ireland Intern Programme

Please note that we are suspending our internship programme for 2014 due to a reorganisation of our governing structure. We have had several important environmental studies and projects carried out by interns over the last number of years and this work has been of immense importance in achieving the goals of or organisation. We will be reviewing our intern programme and the role that plays in future projects.

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Ireland's ancient forest uncovered ...

Irelands Ancient Forest

The 7,500-year-old stump at a drowned forest site at Spiddal, Co Galway. 
Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

An ancient forest over 7500 years old has been uncovered on the North Galway coastline, reports Lorna Siggins of the Irish Times. The forest was exposed by the recent storms sweeping over the west coast of Ireland which stripped off layers of sand on the shoreline revealing the drowned forest.

The oak, pine and birch stumps are in their original position and hadn't fallen over. This leads Professor Mike Williams and Eamon Doyle, who are studying the find, to speculate that the trees died quite quickly, perhaps due to rapid sea level rise.

Up until 5,000 years ago Ireland experienced a series of rapid sea level rises. During the mid-Holocene period, oak and pine forests were flooded along the western seaboard and recycled into peat deposits of up to two metres thick, which were then covered by sand. Professor Williams estimates that sea level would have been at least five metres lower than present when the forests thrived, and traces of marine shell 50cm below the peat surface suggest the forest floor was affected by very occasional extreme wave events such as storm surges or tsunamis.

Professor Williams has also located tree stumps in south Mayo and Clare, along with Galway, which have been carbon dated to between 5,200 and 7,400 years ago at Queen’s University, Belfast. Some of the trees were nearly 100 years old when they perished.

With colleague Eamon Doyle, Professor Williams is due to publish a paper on the findings in the Irish Journal of Earth Sciences . The research was supported by the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark and the Geological Survey of Ireland.

Irish Times reported - March 14 2014