SIR – Coillte’s decision not to sell Castlefreke Woods has been greeted with relief and joy by the many supporters of the campaign established to oppose the sale. The campaign’s stated objective was to keep Castlefreke Woods in public ownership so as to ensure continued public access to the forest, the monuments, and the medieval church and graveyard, and for walkers to continue to enjoy a natural environment renowned for its ecological diversity and sensitivity (indeed, Lough Rahavarrig in Castlefreke Woods is designated a Special Area of Conservation).
The campaign strategy was to hold a public meeting (which was open to any member of the public and attended by more than 300 people), to elect a committee charged with the responsibility to lobby Coillte and political representatives, to launch a petition (so far signed by more than 1,400 people), and to walk the woods each Sunday in a large group to show the depth of public commitment to this wonderful amenity.
The committee communicated with campaign supporters by various means, including social media, and was mindful of the need to publish only well-researched factual information. The campaign resolved from its inception that it would address our concerns to Coillte (as the landowner), rather than to any prospective purchaser(s).
The campaign has been supported by, among others, qualified ecologists, botanists, environmentalists, geologists, ornithologists and archaeologists, who have carefully assessed the current state of Castlefreke Woods. They are in agreement that Coillte is to be complimented for planting native deciduous trees as coniferous trees are felled, and for the development and maintenance of walkways.
They have also contributed to a plan still in preparation for protecting the woods and – critically – developing the amenity to its full potential. Castlefreke Our Woods Our Walks will campaign in the months and years ahead to bring about this worthy objective, and we invite all interested members of the public to join us.
Castlefreke Our Woods