One of the key pillars of the SUAS Pilot Project is to restore upland habitats to a thriving, balanced ecosystem through various initiatives across the participating locations found throughout the Wicklow and Dublin Uplands.
Under the vegetation management strand, resources such as tree samplings, along with guidance and training, is given on how to implement a sustainable management plan specific to each location and its unique characteristics.
One of the many locations that’s benefited from a sustainable management plan created under the scheme, is the Glencap Commonages that surrounds one of Wicklow’s most popular outdoor attraction – The Great Sugar Loaf.
Over the last few months (within the time periods permitted by the Heritage Act 2018), an extensive programme to remove self-seeded invasive and non-native tree species such as sitka spruce, from the natural heathland habitat has taken place. This complex operation involved both mechanical and hand saws dependent on the ground conditions of the 313 hectare site. In their place, native hardwood trees have now been transplanted in clusters across the location by the hill-farmers participating in the SUAS Project.
In keeping with natural upland habitats, the oak, rowan, alder, willow and birch will grow to offer shelter and a welcome food source to wildlife. Additionally, planting in the uplands assists in stabilising soil structures, preventing flooding and run off, and ensuring rainfall is naturally filtered to provide valuable water sources. The River Vartry rises in Calary – close to where this photo was taken – before it reaching the Vartry Reservoirs next to the village of Roundwood – an important source of drinking water to counties Wicklow and Dublin In time, self-seeding will see further growth of these species and a return to a thriving ecosystem cycle with a mosaic of diverse habitats.
Pictured is Declan Byrne, Project Manager of the SUAS Project, recently visiting the location to inspect the programme, that is for the moment is complete.
Organised by the Tree Council, National Tree Week takes place from Sunday the 20th – Saturday the 26th of March. More information on the week long programme of events can be found by visiting. www.treecouncil.ie