President of the Yves Rocher Foundation-Institut de France, Jacques Rocher spent time wandering around the gardens prior to visiting the Yves Rocher plant at Kilbarry in Cork where he planted the first of 30,000 Irish ‘Plant for the Planet’ trees.
Copper beach, ornamental pears, Southern Beech, a 600-year-old yew, and a Monteray Pine with a six metre girth are among the trees at the 60-acre Blarney estate that impressed the Breton.
Admiring the impressive bow-shaped Western Red Cedar, he mused that “when you look at trees that are 200 or 300 years old, you realise that we are just here on a passage”.
His Plant for the Planet initiative began in 2007 when he met the Kenyan-born founder of the Green Belt Movement, Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who has spent much of her life encouraging sustainable development through planting trees.
“It’s a good goal, you know, the 50 million seedlings. I travel a lot and sometimes it’s terrible, you see that humanity has destroyed nature. It’s complicated: it’s not Brazilian people, it’s not Indonesian people, it’s all of us. We use these materials; we import them. We use the wood, the soya from Brazil; all of us. And then you meet somebody like Wangari Maathai, a really fantastic woman and your realise that yes, our goal is quite crazy but not really crazy,” he said.
“What is crazy is that in France over 50 years, we have destroyed enough hedgerow to cover the distance from the earth to the moon. That is crazy,” he said.
The Yves Rocher Foundation is working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) worldwide who will decide where best to plant the native species. The location of the Irish seedlings has not yet been decided.
The Yves Rocher Group, with 15,000 employees worldwide, has had a plant in Cork since 1981.
The first 270 of the 30,000 planned Irish trees are to be planted at Blarney Castle’s aboretum, to symbolise the 270-strong Yves Rocher workforce in Cork.