Almost a dozen volunteers from the An Óige Conservation Group braved the wet and windy conditions to help with the planting of 10,000 new trees at Knockree this past weekend.
The 10,000 trees were planted over a 4.6 hectare (11 acres) area on the land attached to An Óige’s Knockree Youth Hostel in County Wicklow, as part of the new Native Woodland Scheme which is to be part funded by a grant from the Forest Service.
The planting of the trees shows the significant progress made by the An Óige Conservation Group since the Knockree Nature Conservation Management Plan was officially launched just over a year ago by the Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle TD.
Speaking about the planting of the trees, Philip Hayden, Head of the An Óige Conservation Group, said; “Ireland is one of the least forested countries in europe with only 10% tree coverage and only 1% is native broad leaf forest as opposed to comercial conifer plantation. This new Native Woodland Scheme will almost double the size of the woodland at our Knockree site.”
In total, six different types of trees were planted across the 4.6 hectare area. These include oak, alder, birch, scots pine and rowan with cherry to be added later.
Deer proof fencing was also recently erected around the new woodland area by the An Óige Conservation Group as part of their efforts to stop local deer from damaging the growth of the trees while they are young saplings. The fence is over a kilometre in length and has access gates so that traditional pathways in the area are kept open.
“Sika/Red deer hybrids are rampent in the Glencree valley and it would be virtually impossible to establish a new woodland without a fence. In fact the fence is the most expensive part of the whole project”, Philip explained.
An Óige has developed a Conservation Management Plan for the 26 hectare site attached to the Knockree Youth Hostel with the assistance of the Heritage Council. The overall objective of the plan is to end up with a site that has conserved, enhanced and restored habitats and biodiversity which is sustainably used by the hostelling association, members and visitors. The site will be officially protected from exploitation and destruction, and will be preserved for future generations to come.
“The establishment of this new Native Woodland represents a big step forward in our efforts to carry out the Knockree Nature Conservation Management Plan which has been adopted as a strategic objective of the youth hostelling association. Future projects will involve bracken control, surveys, hedgerow restoration and developing the educational potential of the site”, Philip finished.