Urban regeneration should enhance city’s natural environment, meeting will hear

Terryland Forest Park Alliance will host a public meeting on Zoom at 7pm next Tuesday (July 28 ) to review plans for major new construction developments on the Dyke Road, Sandy Road and Cuirt na Coirbhe which border the Terryland Forest Park, the country’s largest community involved public urban woodland initiatives that this year celebrates twenty years in existence.

The keynote speaker will be Derrick Hambleton of An Taisce which is the National Trust for Ireland involved in protecting the country’s built and environmental heritage. There will also be a showing of a film made by RTE’s Eco Eye in 2002 on the Terryland Forest Park which at that time represented a unique way to integrate a natural environment into an urban landscape.

According to Brendan Smith of the Terryland Forest Park Alliance, they are honoured to have one of Ireland’s most well-known campaigners for sustainable development speak at this public meeting.

“Derrick Hambleton has a proud record going back decades in this area primarily through his leading role in An Taisce, the only citizen’s organisation to have a statutory role in planning and environmental matters and highly respected for its successful eco-initiatives such as Green Schools, Blue Flag beaches, and the annual National Spring Clean which collectively have done so much to increase public awareness on, and involvement in, conservation activities.

“The future direction and shape of our city for generations to come will be decided over the next few months and years. The Sandy Road and Dyke Road developments are key parts of a proposed built strategic programme that could positively regenerate the inner city. This is to be welcomed and the public must be actively involved and have their say at all levels on something that could dramatically enhance the living and working conditions of urban dwellers

“However it is critical that these housing and business developments must not be at the expense of the natural environment. For decades not only did we fail to provide a safe walking and cycling network infrastructure in our cities, but the green spaces that were allocated to urban communities were sometimes the verges at the sides of road and housing estates that did little to provide sufficient passive and active recreational facilities or to enhance our threatened indigenous flora and fauna.

“The opening of the Terryland Forest Park in 2000 as a community-local authority partnership represented an alternative landscape for urban Ireland. But in subsequent years campaigners found themselves too often on the defensive trying to stop it from being lost to tarmac and concrete rather than to continue expanding it as a nature sanctuary and as a People’s Park,” he added.

“So we must not repeat the mistakes of the past and we need to learn the lessons from the COVID Lockdown. Local parks that are properly staffed and resourced have a huge role to play in promoting the health and social cohesion of urban neighburhoods. But biodiversity in a time of Climate Change and the threat of species extinction must also be given increased protection and ample living space.

Mr Smith said that the Terryland Forest Park-Dyke Road locality could become an exciting green-blue hub of international importance uniting the Connemara Greenway (via the old Clifden railway bridge ), the Corrib waterways, urban woodlands and the boreens of Castelgar, Menlo, Carrowbrowne and beyond.

“So we must take advantage of any major housing/business developments on the Dyke and Sandy Road to look at the possibility of construct ‘green bridges’ (ecological corridors ) over roadways to connect the fragmented parts of the 180-acre Terryland Forest Park, and to develop the abandoned waterworks near Eamonn Deacy Park as a visitors’ forestry/waterways interpretative centre,” he concluded.

To book a place at Tuesday’s meeting contact nationalparkcity [email protected]


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