Galway Forest Park thrives in just two decades
As discussions continue at the COP26 summit this week, activists in Galway say the success of an environmental initiative there shows what can be achieved in just over 20 years.
A community effort saw biodiversity flourish in a forest planted in 2000.
The seeds for Terryland Forest Park were sown in the mid-1990s, when the UN’s first talks on tackling human interference to the climate were initiated.
Discussions at COP1 in Berlin coincided with a local campaign in Galway to counter urban sprawl.
Communities on the east side of town have successfully lobbied for the local authority to designate 180 acres for recreation and amenity.
In the years that followed, volunteers set out to transform fields and wetlands into forest parks.
In March 2000, around 3,000 people came to the site to plant hundreds of native Irish trees.
A little over two decades later, the region is a paradise for flora and fauna.
This morning, as the regular site cleaning and maintenance work was carried out over the weekend, one of the park’s first visionaries recalled how it all began.
Brendan Smith of the Terryland Park Alliance said people have come together in need of green space for their young families.
He said that in many ways their efforts predated the discussions that have taken place more recently.
“People are much more aware of the importance of reconnecting with nature now. What you see here is the result of work done in the late 1990s and early 21st century.”
The park is a few hundred yards from Galway city center and straddles the N6 dual carriageway on the River Corrib. But it shows what can happen in a relatively short period of time.
Now, this is part of a larger effort for Galway to achieve ‘city in the national park’ status.
The Park City initiative would mean that all future developments would have to take into account the natural environment and include the abundance of “green and blue” resources. [woodlands, parks and waterways] in the city in their design.
In addition to promoting a sustainable, healthier and greener city, the program encourages citizens to connect – and work to strengthen – their local environment.
This philosophy was on display at Terryland today when volunteers of all ages walked through the park to sow native flowers around the bases of native trees that were planted in 2000.
Hyacinths, daffodils and other flowers will peak here in a few months. The waves of the local countryside that began just a quarter of a century ago continue to spread and spread.