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Rewilding Ireland: ‘Undoing the damage’ from a history of deforestation

View of Eoghn Daltun's land on the Beara Peninsuala, County Cork, Ireland. Photo by Farming For Future (CC BY 4.0)

  • Eoghan Daltun has spent the past 14 years successfully rewilding 29 hectares (73 acres) of farmland on the Beara Peninsula in southwestern Ireland.
  • Ireland is one of the most ecologically denuded countries in the world, only possessing about 11% forest cover but on this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, co-host Rachel Donald speaks with Daltun about how he came to accomplish his rewilding feat simply by letting nature take its course and erecting a good fence, which has rapidly led to the regeneration of native forest, wildflowers and fauna.
  • They also discuss the historical drivers of ecological devastation that have led to the classic, tree-less Irish landscape, from ancient times to imperial colonization and the advent of modern farming, and what the potential of rewilding is to change that and boost biodiversity.

Rewilding advocate Eoghan Daltun was unsatisfied with life in Dublin, so he sold his property and bought a farm on the Beara Peninsula of southwestern Ireland. His plan was simple: remove the invasive plant species and then put up a fence to keep out the goats and nonnative sika deer. The land did the rest, rewinding time rapidly toward what is beginning to look like a temperate rainforest in just 14 years. Even rare native creatures like pine martens have discovered the regenerating habitat.

Daltun joins the Mongabay Newscast to share his story and rewilding insights, which are detailed in his book, An Irish Atlantic Rainforest: A Personal Journey Into the Magic of Rewilding.

Listen here:

Ireland, along with the U.K., is among the most ecologically denuded nations of the world. The island nation historically had 80% forest cover before the advent of modern agriculture. Today, less than 2% of the land is native woodland, despite reforestation schemes, which have struggled in recent years. Daltun advocates rewilding as a better approach.

Part of the Irish Atlantic rainforest in the Beara Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Eoghan Daltun.

“[A]ny pieces of land that have been left on farms for a significant length of time very often have reverted naturally back to wild native forests,” he says. “[O]nce I started seeing this, I started to realize that something like that would be so much better than actually planting trees.”

Classic view of Ireland. Photo by Richard Webb/Wikimedia Commons.

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Banner image: View of Eoghan Daltun’s land on the Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland. Photo by Farming For Future (CC BY 4.0).

Rachel Donald is a climate corruption reporter and the creator of Planet: Critical, the podcast and newsletter for a world in crisis. Her latest thoughts can be found at 𝕏 via @CrisisReports and at Bluesky via

Mike DiGirolamo is a host & associate producer for Mongabay based in Sydney. He co-hosts and edits the Mongabay Newscast. Find him on LinkedInBluesky and Instagram.

Related podcast:

Wild by nature: Ecological restoration brings humanity and biodiversity together

Related reading:

From debt to diversity: A journey of rewilding, carbon capture and hope

More than half of Europe’s forests lost over 6,000 years

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