17th May 2023

Phase 1 of the Restoration of Ancient Woodland at Delamont Now Complete

The first phase of a project to remove invasive woodland species from three sections of the woodland at Delamont Country Park is now complete. 

In this project, overseen and managed by the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland on behalf of Newry Mourne and Down District Council, just under eight hectares of invasive woodland species including Rhododendron and Cherry Laurel have been removed.

Rhododendron and Cherry Laurel are highly invasive and toxic woodland species. Rhododendron was first introduced as an ornamental plant to parks, gardens, and demesnes in Britain and Ireland in the 1700’s. The density of these plants when they grow means that they stop light from reaching the woodland floor, preventing native ground flora and other trees from growing.

At Delamont Country Park these invasive species have now been removed from three areas of the woodland to restore the woodland ecosystem. They have been cut down at ground level, extracted and the stumps treated with an approved herbicide. Removing the invasive species will allow the native woodland plants such as bluebells, and native trees to thrive with better exposure to the light. 

Conor Mallon, Director of Enterprise, Regeneration and Tourism for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said, “Our district is renowned for the quality and beauty of its forest parks and outdoor spaces. Now when visiting Delamont, visitors will be able to see where the work has taken place and signs that the woodland has already started to regenerate naturally. 

“The restoration of the Park’s ancient woodland is just one element of a wider plan by the Council to develop Delamont’s facilities and trails, which will improve the overall visitor experience. I look forward to seeing Delamont restored to its former natural woodland glory.

Matt Huddlestone, Senior Outreach Manager for the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland said, “We are delighted to partner with Newry, Mourne and Down District to protect and restore the ancient woodland in Delamont Country Park. Ancient woodland is precious in Northern Ireland, with just 0.04% remaining and as our most diverse habitat on land, it supports a really complex ecosystem. 

“If we do not reverse some of the impacts that we’re seeing on our ancient woodland so that they have a chance to grow, then they will be gone forever. We can turn the tide on this and there’s still time to restore all the ancient woodlands of Northern Ireland, that’s why it’s so great to work with partner landowners.”

Any regrowth will be treated during years two and three to ensure that these areas remain free of these invasives species, and native tree species are given the best possible chance of re-establishing.

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