Balla Town Park and Western Forestry Co-op was delighted to welcome An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, to the official opening of the Balla Town Park NeighbourWood community woodland on Monday.
Balla Town Park and Western Forestry Co-op started working on the initial application for the NeighbourWood project in spring 2015. The area of woodland for the project is 35 acres of old estate woodland that had developed into seminatural woodland that was severely encroached by laurel, a non native invasive species that had completely choked areas of the woodland preventing any natural regeneration from occurring and making parts of the woodland completely inaccessible. The main task was to remove this laurel. As new areas of the wood were being opened up, beautiful old oak trees were being released that previously could not be accessed, giving the woodland a new lease of life. This is important as in early times the village of Balla was known as Ros Dairbhreach meaning “the height of the oak wood”.
Work commenced in February 2016, and although the winter weather played havoc at times the project was completed by August 2016. Works that were completed as part of the project include the planting of 3,000 new trees, respacing in areas where the trees were growing very densely, stock fencing part of the woodland to protect against stock trespass, a new four bay car park, a new loop path and upgrade to existing paths, a rowan woodland grove was created, the installation of picnic benches and seats along the paths, new information signs and map, the placing of woodland habitat signs on the native woodland type and birds and mammals, the installation of bat and owl boxes, completion of a tree trail of 15 different trees in the woodland, and the creation of a fairy village.
For anyone who has been over to the woodland it is a treasure for the town of Balla both for the present and future generations. Balla Town Park should be complimented on the management of the woods, in particular Brendan Burke for his dedication to the woodlands.