No green to be seen: a biodiversity desert on Slievenamon

Two weeks ago I walked on Slievenamon, not all the way to the summit but simply up the path near Kilcash and then around the area just where this path meets the main route to the summit. 

There are fine views from this area – not as extensive as further up obviously but nevertheless giving a great view of the Suir valley from Clonmel via Carrick to Waterford. The Suir bridge at Waterford seemed eeriely near.
On one side of this path there is a conifer plantation. A very brief walk in revealed, starkly, a major truth about conifers packed closely. They are essentially deserts in terms of biodiversity.

Only the edges of the plantation and the very tops of the trees inside showed any greenery. The bulk of the tree trunks, and most vividly the forest floor, showed no growth. Some birdsong aside, no sign of other life.

I have read much about the negatives of conifer plantations, but this haunting and – not to be overdramatic – actually rather distressing experience brought the lack of biodiversity home vividly. 

Of course, no doubt with more expertise (and equipment) more life could be found in this habitat than my eye could find. 

But the contrast with a different approach to forest is stark.

To illustrate this, here’s two shots of mixed woodland in Marlfield Woods:

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