We are asking all supporters to reclaim the "Peoples Park" for the people of Galway by participating in the first Community Tree Planting in the Terryland Forest Park since 2010.
The event will take place at 10am sharp for one hour on Saturday (Apr 14) behind the Black Box Theatre on the Dyke Road.
A Conservation Volunteers group has now been established for the Terryland Forest Park that will be working with Galway City Council in revitalising community input into protecting and enhancing this major green zone through hedgerow plantings, pathways development, wildlife support measures, litter clean-ups and nature trails.
The initial step in this direction will be Saturday's tree planting or 'Plantathon'.
In association with the recent re-activation of the Galway City Council-led Terryland Forest Park Steering Committee there is now hope that, what was once a citizens' initiated urban forest riverine park that inspired eco-communities in Europe and in the USA, will once again become a global beacon for grassroots movements everywhere, demonstrating that biodiversity protection and neighbourhood regeneration can develop together in harmony rather than be in conflict.
Finally, there are plans, as part of an annual Forest Park programme of public events, to organise a heritage cycle tour in May that will commence from the Castlegar end of the park and a Sunday Family Picnic extravaganza in late June!
One of the ideals of those that founded the Terryland Forest Park project in 1999 came to fruition with the establishment of a broad-based community organic garden in 2010. It is located in the Forest Park adjacent to the large housing estates of Ballinfoile and Castlegar.
This garden, managed by a volunteer committee representing a wide section of the local community, not only plants vegeatables and fruits organically, but also provides workshops on hurdling, hedgerow planting, drystone walling and other traditional rural skills that have almost disappeared from living memory.
These skills are being used by the course participants to add on new features to the garden, from a pond to a perimeter hedgerow.
Click here to learn about its official opening by the Galway city Mayor in Summer 2010
We hope that the public's enthusiastic response will encourage Galway City Council to re-introduce annual environmental and leisure events programmes for local parks and woodlands aimed at all age groups, schools and neighbourhood associations.
Even though this public planting of trees in in the "People's Park" was mainly promoted over two days by word of mouth, radio and by online social networking, so many people turned up that all stocks of trees ran out after 90 minutes rather than the 4hour period allocated for the plantings! So sadly, hundreds of volunteers never actually got the opportunity to plant trees on the day.
Still it was a great success which much credit having to go to Sharon Carroll (Environment Education Officer) & to Stephen Walsh of and his staff of the parks section of Galway City Council.
The residents of Galway City have yet again shown that they want to play an active part in the protection, preservation and enjoyment of our local beautiful natural landscapes. So City Hall should build on the excellent work that they undertook in organising Sunday’s event in conjunction with community campaigners and re-introduce a year- long programme of trees and hedgerow plantings, nature studies, outdoor arts classes and courses on such traditional crafts as coppicing and drystone walling.
The recent decision of all bar two Galway city councillors(Fianna Fáil's Michael Crowe voted against; his brother Ollie Crowe abstained) to support Councillor Derek Nolan’s motion to axe a new road through the Terryland Forest Park from the Galway City Development Plan was to be applauded and represented a great victory for local democracy.
The almost unanimous vote of City Council lined up our local elected representatives alongside Galway West TDs from all political parties, the 10,000 people who signed the petition against the road and all those organisations and individuals who did likewise in early 2008 when the Headford Road Framework Plan was unveiled. Its public consultation process represented the largest involvement of citizens with the planning and development process since the controversy over proposals to build a regional waste incinerator in Galway ten years ago.
But we are shocked that city officials had decided, after sitting on the report for the last few years, to ‘bin’ an exercise that attracted such high local input. Many groups and individuals had invested considerable time and effort into making submissions to the Headford Road Framework Plan. Hence its abandonment makes a mockery of public consultation and a considerable waste of taxpayers’ monies as a team of high-powered consultants were hired to bring the report to fruition.
Most people were and are in agreement with the need to regenerate the 76 acres along the Headford Road that contains a number of derelict sites, an unattractive streetscape, a anti-cycling/anti-pedestrian transport artery and underutilised parks. But they felt that local authority officials’ determination to build a road through the developing forest was a betrayal of the thousands of citizens of all ages who enthusiastically heeded the call of City Hall to plant trees in Terryland Forest Park ten years ago when they were being promised that this new green zone was to become a “People’s Park”catering for older people, schools, colleges and arts groups as well as a proposed ‘ecological corridor’ linking the lower Dyke Road area to Castlegar village. It is also the case that building in a flood plain in a time of global climate change and rising water levels is contrary to Irish government’s recommendations to local authorities.
Likewise, many experts felt that constructing a new link road that would bring traffic towards Woodquay along a widened Dyke Road from a Quincentennial Bridge equipped with traffic lights would only worsen traffic congestion in the city.
We are requesting councillors to ensure that the Headford Road Framework Plan is published and that the expenditure outlay be made known. Otherwise ordinary people’s confidence in any future public consultation process undertaken by Galway city council will be seriously undermined.
It was a great success with thousands of pieces of litter were gathered from one section of the Terryland Forest Park. However beverage cans represented the largest class of items collected at 35% followed by drink bottles at 32%.
Time now for John Gormley, the government Minister for the Environment, to finally take action on our proposal to re-introduce a national refundable levy on drinks cans/bottles. We have been lobbying him on this issue without success since 2007.
For more information on the Terryland Forest Park clean-up and the refundable levy proposal click here
Major Partnership Initiative to Clean up Terryland Forest Park & Galway City's Green Spaces Gets Underway
Our Environmental campaign group Friends of the Forest has joined forces with Galway City Council to implement a new initiative designed to secure public participation in regular major monthly clean-ups of the city’s public spaces.
While we fundamentally disagree with the local authority officials' still existing plans to build a road through this most precious urban forest park that will all destroy its proposed development as an important ecological corridor , nevertheless we see no reason why we should not work with City Hall to increase public use of the forest and to help eliminate the waste crisis that exists in this important natural heritage area.There is a serious and growing litter problem in parks and other green spaces across the country. However, because of the local authority recruitment embargo, ordinary citizens must re-discover 'civic pride' and take up the challenge of helping to keep our valuable green resources clean in order to protect our increasingly threatened wildlife and to encourage greater use of woods and parklands by schools, arts groups and local communities.Inspired by the international ‘Beach Watch’ project organised in Galway by Atlantaquaria (Ireland's National Aquarium), Friends of the Forest held a series of meetings with City Hall’s Environmental Education Officer Sharon Carroll and the Superintendent of Parks Stephen Walsh on implementing regular high-profile mass clean ups that would each month focus in on different public spaces across the city.The result is that the first of these major clean-ups known as ‘Glan Suas Gaillimh!’ (Irish for 'Clean Up Galway!') operating under the auspices of Galway City Council will start at 2.30pm on Sunday November 15th in the Terryland Forest Park.
Follow-on clean-ups will include Merlin Woods, Barna Woods and our seashores.
It is hoped that residents of all ages from all across the city will take part in this major partnership initiative that could make such a positive contribution to our city’s image and well-being. So well done to Sharon McHugh & Stephen Walsh for bing so supportive and proactive in doing every thing possible to ensure the success of Glan Suas Gaillimh!
Sharon in particular has gone over and beyond the call of duty to involve children in the clean-up as a continuation of her work with schools on the Green Flag initiative This litter drive will represent an important step in re-engaging the people of Galway with City Hall’s environmental policies. We are also now hopeful that Council will re-introduce an annual eco-programme for Terryland Forest Park and elsewhere that will include family tree planting days, community arts events and educational nature tours. Continued tree planting is urgently needed to offset global warming with our forests acting as ‘carbon sinks’. As well as being major biodiversity zones, forests also serve as important passive/active amenity areas.
The Friends of the Forest are also continuing their three year lobbying of the Minister of the Environment to introduce a national refundable levy on all drink containers purchased at off-licences and other retail outlets. As discarded cans and bottles are probably the number one cause of litter in Ireland, a refundable levy would have a beneficial impact on our environment by providing an economic incentive for people to keep Irish parks, roads, and waterways clean.
Such a monetary pay-back scheme existed in Ireland until a few decades ago and is very successful today in other countries.
The monies saved could then be used to encourage greater public use of our wonderful green spaces by funding the provision of park wardens, regular outdoor family events and park facilities such as picnic areas, community gardens and eco-learning centres.
Jan 2009: Increase In Anti-Social Activities, while Concern Grows Over Failure of Forest Steering Committee To Meet.But Optimism Over Community Garden
Litter & Remnants of destructive Fires in Terryland Park: Dec 2008
This was well received by the Friends of the Forest group. In good faith concerned members of the steering committee were invited by the consultant appointed to meet with him and to present written submissions outlining their hopes and aspirations for the park project.
Remnants from Destructive Fires in Terryland Forest Park: Dec 2008
The one bit of good news is that Stephen Walsh, City Parks' Superintendent, has given the green light to a proposal from a Ballinfoile Mor residents-agency group (that includes a number of Friends of the Forest activists) to establish a community garden within the park once anticipated funding comes through.
If Galway City Council is to regain its reputation in this area and to re-engage the public with hands-on ecological activities, time is running out.
Spring -once the time for popular family Plantings (Plantathons) in Terryland Forest in the 2000-2003 period- is not far off.
Furthermore as the photos below demonstrate, the park itself is now suffering badly from litter, bush drinking and anti-social behaviour.