Catchment News

Longford Demesne Wood, Sligo – an award-winning forest, protecting knowledge of our past for the future

| in News, Stories, Water and Communities

Declan and Yvonne Foley tell us how their wood, which won the 2010 RDS Forest Service Bio-Diverse Forestry/Woodland Award, has been conserved and protected, and allows people from the local community, and further afield, to study and learn about the natural wonders that live in and around their forest.

Our farm is situated about 8 kilometres from Ballisodare Village and about 3 kilometres into the hills from the N59 Sligo-Ballina Road. The old estate rests beneath the shelter of Knockacree, enjoying the fresh water flow from the mountain streams feeding into the Ardnaglass river, through the woodland which has some natural springs, continuing to Dunmoran Strand and the Atlantic Ocean.

The conservation and protection of the woodland started in 2004 with the old estate woods of Poulaphuca and Big Meadow, maintaining and enhancing the species and structural diversity while protecting the historical and cultural integrity of the woodland under the Native Woodland Conservation Scheme, and also installing a new plantation in the adjacent former grazing land under the Native Establishment Scheme.

The woodland is composed of a series of loops. Visitor can choose to walk the entire length, or just complete one of the shorter loops and with the level landscape and many footbridges, these walks are easily accessed. Natural springs and wells flow through the woodland, joining up with the mountain streams.

Deadwood and hollow trunks are abundant throughout the woodland, allowing for extensive habitats for insects, and hosting a large selection of fungi.

Since 2006 we have held workshops for writers groups, nature studies and now host Polish Students of Forestry for workshops in all aspects of woodland conservation, including improving accessibility by the addition of more footbridges and seating areas in a sensitive manner to allow for future research purposes.

We also have a rath/ringfort, an imposing site reminding us that farming communities over millennia depended on this land. This area is protected under the Forest Service Guidelines and is cut to establish a species rich grassland/wild flower meadow.

Native species rich hedgerow measuring 400 metres has been planted over six years on a raised bed along the river bank to prevent soil erosion, enhancing the riparian environment, while providing shelter and shade. Through GLAS 3, we have established an area for wild bird cover.

Declan and Yvonne Foley, Longford Demesne Wood, Beltra, County Sligo

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