Wicklow Uplands Council warmly welcomes Monday’s announcement that nine of Coillte’s forests in the Dublin Uplands will transition away from commercial use to create biodiverse forests dedicated to recreational purposes.
Beginning this summer, the ’Dublin Mountains Makeover’ will see the forests of Ticknock, Kilmashogue, Ballyedmonduff, Massy’s Wood, Hell Fire Club, Cruagh, Tibradden, Barnaslingan and Carrickgollogan commence the transformation designed to deliver a positive impact on biodiversity and provide a high-quality outdoor visitor experience on Dublin’s doorstep.
Already very popular with recreational users, these forests welcome over 600,000 visitors each year, with Ticknock seeing an average of over 550 visits a day.
With an area of over 900 hectares across the nine forest locations, it makes the Dublin Mountains Makeover the largest project of its kind ever carried out in Ireland which will be overseen by Coillte Nature in partnership with the Dublin Mountain Partnership.
To achieve this ambitious plan, a mixture of management approaches will be implemented, most notably that of Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF). Considered a kinder management approach, it eliminates the need for clearfelling operations by removing small clusters of trees over time and replacing them with seedlings to create a mosaic of species and a more multi-generational forest.
In areas where this approach is not possible or a complete change of species is desired, a Remove and Replant (R & R) approach will be used. This involves the removal of existing conifer plantations in a single operation before being replaced with native woodland species including Birch, Rowan, Scots Pine, Oak and Holly.
These methods of forestry management will enhance and create habitats for wildlife, enrich their recreational appeal to people, improve the wider landscape’s aesthetic value and invest in healthier forests that are more resilient to climate change.
This long-term project follows the formation of a not-for-profit entity, Coillte Nature in 2019, which focuses on the environment and recreational use of forests and the delivery of new woodlands that facilitate species diversity, biodiversity, carbon sequestration and the development of outdoor recreation and tourism amenities as part of the Government’s National Forestry Programme.
Overall, around 40% of the Coillte lands in the Dublin Mountains are already managed for biodiversity. Half of these ‘Biodiversity Areas’ are heathland, like the tree-less shrubby area around Fairycastle and Tibradden mountain, which are important breeding habitats for birds like the endangered Red Grouse.
The other half includes various types of forests that have value for nature, but these represent a small proportion of the forest total. The overwhelming majority of forests in the Dublin Mountains (92%) are comprised of non-native trees species like Sitka spruce (57%), larch (10%), lodgepole pine (7%), firs (6%), other conifers (6%) and non-native broadleaves like beech and sycamore (6%).
Please note, there will be some disruption for forest users as the plans are carried out, including machinery, felling and lorries on local roads, and the diversion or temporary closing of some trails.