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Saturday, 2 March 2013

Westmeath Welcomes Native Woodland Trust


Yesterday, 1st March, Native Woodland Trust released this ....

Westmeath Welcomes The Native Woodland Trust 
A Fruitful Partnership 

There have been exciting developments in County Westmeath recently due to a pioneering partnership between Westmeath County Council and The Native Woodland Trust. This involved Westmeath County Council leasing a beautiful nature reserve to The Native Woodland Trust. The nature reserve is called Ardan Woods and is located halfway between the villages of Tyrrellspass and Kilbeggan. Since finalising this partnership in July 2012, there has been a fantastic response from the local community with local volunteers turning out to help the Native Woodland Trust clear and improve the old entrance to the woods, opening up this fantastic woodland to visitors. There has also been a huge attendance at local Native Woodland Trust guided woodland walks proving that the people of Westmeath and further afield  truly do appreciate their native woodland heritage.

The Native Woodland Trust is an environmental charity dedicated to the protection of Ireland’s native and ancient woodlands. The Trust achieves this by actively planting new native woodlands for the future while also setting up woodland reserves that protect existing mature native woodland. Ardan Woods is one such nature reserve and is a brilliant example of mature native woodland and one of the finest the Trust has come across. As Native Woodland Trust Manager Linda Lawlor explains here “Ardan Wood is one of the most valuable types of woodlands left in Ireland and it has every indication that it is ancient woodland. This wood is shown on the first edition OS maps of the 1830’s”.

The management of this fantastic wood has been handed over to the Native Woodland Trust by the Westmeath County Council through a 200 year lease agreement. This decision now ensures that the woodland and all its wildlife will be managed as a nature reserve long into the future.  Activities carried out to date on site have been the clearing of the entrance steps, a native seed collecting visit and most recently the strengthening of fencing to keep the woods safe from potentially damaging livestock grazing.  The Native Woodland Trust recently hosted a guided walk of the nearby Split Hills and Long Hill Esker Woodland which was attended by over 50 people, young and old coming from all areas of Westmeath and further afield.  As Kieran Flood , Native Woodland Trust’s Reserves and Education Officer observed. “It is a fine sight to see such large groups of people from all generations gathering together to experience the wonders of an Irish Native Woodland. The level of local engagement in our activities already shows great hope for the woodlands of Westmeath for the future.”

This venture between the Westmeath County Council and the Native Woodland Trust has already proved to be very successful. The Native Woodland Trust is very thankful for Westmeath County Council’s help in creating this success and the Council are delighted that this previously hidden gem is,  largely through voluntary input,  being opened up to an appreciative local and wider community . The Trust will be running many more guided walks and events in the Westmeath area during 2013 and the years to come as they endeavour to protect Ardan Woods for future generations of the people of Westmeath, neighbouring counties and further afield.

For more information on events at Ardan and elsewhere or if you would like to become a member of Native Woodland Trust please click here www.nativewoodlandtrust.ie

Editor's Notes:

The Native Woodland Trust is an environmental charity dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of our native woodlands. Native woodland is a scarce habitat in Ireland and we are actively engaged in its protection through the acquisition of woodland sites and the planting of new community woodland reserves.

We currently have five woodland reserves; two in Co Wicklow, one in Co Leitrim, one in Waterford, one in Westmeath and we are in the process of expanding our reserves network.

Together with local communities and volunteers we transform these sites into native woodlands through tree and wildflower planting and careful maintenance.

We always aim to plant native trees of local varieties grown from local seed in our own nurseries.

To complement our woodland creation and protection activity, we engage in environmental education and awareness in aimed at increasing knowledge and appreciation of Ireland’s woodland heritage.

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