Braving the weather: Planting a New Native Woodland in Co. Mayo
On a drizzly March day we headed out to a site near Charlestown in Co. Mayo to get involved in some tree planting. The Nature Trust works with various private forestry companies around Ireland to plant native Irish woodlands and this new woodland was being established by Veon Forestry and Ecology. The site in question is just under 17 hectares in size – over 40 acres – and was being planted with a mix of native Irish tree and shrub species.
We had some helpers from Axa Ireland’s offices as part of their staff volunteering programme. They braved the wind and rain to help us plant oak and Scots pine saplings in one section of the site. Cathy Harkin, who works as a Team Lead at Axa Insurance DAC was one of the volunteers. ‘I had a great day meeting other AXA employees and The Nature Trust team’, said Cathy. ‘They were really informative about the work they do and how our funding is helping build more woodlands in Ireland. It felt good to be part of something that will make a difference in our future.’
In the raised, drier areas the likes of Scots pine, oak, hazel and birch are planted. In the lower wetter areas more water-tolerant species link alder and willow are added in. For establishing willow in this situation, cuttings are taken from willow growing nearby and struck into the wet ground. Willow is a quick-growing plant that loves wet soils with good light and these cuttings should take root and start to grow over the coming months. All the other trees and shrubs planted are sourced from Irish nurseries, grown from seed collected in Ireland by registered seed-collectors.
In time, these trees will grow and create a beautiful biodiverse native woodland, which will be a home for many bird and animal species. It will also be open to the public as a place to relax, learn and connect with nature. We look forward to watching it grow!