NEWLY released satellite photographs posted online show the impact of a large scale clearance of trees on a County Cork wood for which campaigners are seeking State protection for a number of years.
The impact of the tree felling by the landowner of Silvergrove, a part of Toon Wood, is shown clearly in the two photographs. The before photograph above shows a significantly sized wood to the south of the road and to the north of the Toon River. This is all but completely cleared and replaced by a large pasture area in the ‘after’ photograph.
The pictures have been highlighted by a local environmental group as the a Department spokesperson confirmed to The Corkman that the National Park and Wildlife Service had ‘commissioned an ecological survey of a suite of woods, including Toon Wood, in order to acquire updated information on these sites’.
“The results of this survey will inform the NPWS view as to as to whether the designation of Toon Wood as a Natural Heritage Area is justified,” the spokesman said.
The update from the Department of Housing which oversees National Parks and Wildlife Service has been to call for Toon Woods to be designated as a Natural Heritage Area without further delay.
“Macroom and District Environment Group is appalled at the scale of the damage done to Toon Woods at Silvergrove, which is now apparent from recent satellite imagery.
“A recent High Court injunction ordered owners James and Lorraine Costello to replant only part of the damaged woods.
“These areas were cut down using tree harvesting equipment and would regrow if allowed to do so. Unfortunately, due to a mistake by the Forest Service in reinstating the forestry felling licence in October 2018, the most severely damaged portions of the wood which were cleared using mechanical excavators and subsequently converted to pasture, are not covered by the replanting order.
“We call on National Parks and Wildlife Services to proceed with the designation to National Heritage Area that was approved by Professor John Cross prior to his retirement as NPWS Chief Scientist in 2013.”
The MDEG has also snt copies of the satellite photographs published here to Minister of State Malcolm Noonan and appealed to him to give Toon Wood Natural Heritage Area status.
“We are told that a new survey is being undertaken to establish the suitability of Toon Woods as an NHA candidate.
“We think this is hardly a necessary expense, as this work was done in 2013 and the subsequent report by Blackthorn Ecology is available and attached here for your convenience.
“It finds Toon Woods to be “of national conservation value due to the diversity and naturalness of the woodlands and adjoining habitats present.
“We call on National Parks and Wildlife Services to proceed with the designation of Toon Woods as a National Heritage Area, which was approved by Professor John Cross prior to his retirement as NPWS Chief Scientist in 2013.
“We call on NPWS to use the maps that were drawn up by Blackthorn Ecology for their report Survey and Mapping of Toon Valley to be Proposed for Designation as an NHA, in June 2013, and to ensure that all the damaged woodland areas are fenced off and allowed to regenerate, or replanted using seed from the surviving portions of woodland.”
There has been no estimate given by the Housing Department as to a completion date for the survey of the woodland areas it has commissioned and how long after that it would take to designate Toon Wood as a Natural Heritage Area if that was the recommendation of the survey.
In his recommendation, in 2013, Professor John Cross described Toon Wood as ‘Ireland’s finest undesignated native woodland’.