Graduate Student Ruby Harris-Gavin in the The Current

Ruby's work is featured in the article "False Forests" by Sonia Fernandez 

July 12, 2021

Excerpt from Article:

"Oak. Elm. Rowan. Ash. Willow. Hazel. Forests of these trees used to cover Ireland, and they are indelible in the Irish memory, yielding an ancient alphabet, giving their names to places and people, and ever-present in the old poems and songs.

What would the old poets say now, if they saw that the landscape was no longer home to groves of gnarled, spreading oaks of the Old World forests, but the towering, upright conifers of the American Pacific Northwest? Sitka spruce for example, constitute slightly more than half of Ireland’s tree cover.

“I remember when I was young, being confused by their presence,” said Ruby Harris-Gavin, a graduate student researcher in the lab of UC Santa Barbara ecologist Hillary Young. “I knew that they weren’t a normal forest.” She knew the conifers were there for some purpose, though, but the significance of their presence wouldn’t be clear until years later, during her undergraduate studies at UCSB, when she returned every year to Ireland to visit family and noticed the growing number of spruce stands.

“I think most people think, ‘oh, forests, you know. Those are good,’’’ she said. “But really what they’re creating are not forests.”

Read full article linked below.