By AilIn Quinlan
A GROUP of West Cork tree-lovers with an eye to the future are ensuring that their grand-children, and great-grand-children will experience the beauty of a real Irish oak forest.
Around 1,000 trees are to be planted next month over six-and-a-half acres of countryside around the beautiful Gullane Lake on the Cork side of Clonakilty – bringing the number of native Irish species planted there to 4,500 over the past three years.
It’s all part of the BranchOut project, which began three years ago and in which local volunteers have planted thousands of trees donated by a number of local nurseries.
The trees, now spread across five acres of Co Council property – soon to be six-and-a-half – and will be a priceless legacy for future generations.
In all, there are 26 acres of land owned by the County Council in the area, and, says Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan, one of the founders of the BranchOut project which began in 2013, and continues on Saturday March 7th from 9am, it’s a project with an eye to the future.
‘Cork County Council has given us permission to plant a further acre or so this year with more than 1,000 trees. This is the third year we’ve done this and when we have finished there will be 4,500 trees planted,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan, who said the idea had originated in the One Million Trees in One Day initiative back in 2013.
‘A group of us decided to grow something sustainable. It will be a legacy for future generations, who will be able to enjoy this native Irish woodland,’ he said, adding that although all the species area variety of Irish trees – oak, silver birch, alder, hazel and wild cherry – the plan is that, many years from now, this will be an oak forest.
‘There will also be a section given over to native wildflowers to enhance bee pollinations.’
In a hundred years or so, the other trees will have died off and the final canopy will be native Irish oak, Cllr O’Sullivan explained.
Clonakilty Tidy Towns are involved in the project again this year, as is the Clonakilty Arts Centre, and it’s hoped the planting will transform the area into a wonderful local amenity.
Volunteers are asked to be at the site by 9am on Saturday March 7th.