There has been a broad welcome for Coillte’s decision to abandon plans for a road through a beauty spot near Cork City.
The organisation had initially applied to the Department of Agriculture under the Forestry Act for a forest road licence, to facilitate a wider 360m-long road within the woods, known to locals as Garryduff Woods.
It is believed the measure was being put in place to facilitate tree-felling.
However, locals had expressed grave concern that it would destroy the mixed woodland area which is steeped in history.
Locals had previously said that a number of trees had not been replanted after previous felling operations a number of years ago.
Former Lord Mayor Terry Shannon and councillor Mary Rose Desmond brought up the issue at the most recent meeting of Cork City Council.
Welcoming confirmation that the road would not proceed, Ms Desmond praised Coillte for its meaningful engagement and proactive response to residents’ concerns.
“Coillte met us for over two hours and addressed the groups concerns as we walked through the entire wood and followed up quickly with confirmation that the road application had been withdrawn,” she said.
Councillor Terry Shannon also welcomed the progress from Coillte, saying: “We all want the same result - to protect this natural amenity which is uniquely situated in the heart of an urban community and to ensure an agreed plan is in place.”
Local resident Robbie Williams, who formed the Friends of Garryduff Woods group, said the decision showed that “collective reasoning and strong local representation goes a long way”.
Despite widespread relief in the community, Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton warned of the importance of securing the future of the popular woodland area.
“I want to see the future of the forest secured,” she said. “My fear is that while Coillte have scrapped these plans they may come back with something different.
“The area they were going to fell is a plantation that is severely storm damaged. The irony is that to get to that area they were going to bulldoze through magnificent mature, mixed forestry.
“If they want to manage that area they need to pick a different route to access it that won’t destroy an urban resource that is so valuable.
“There are probably around 30,000 people who depend on this which is why it’s so important to secure its future.”
Ms D’Alton urged people not to let their guard down. “This is no longer within my municipal district but the people in my municipal district and town use it and depend on it as an amenity,” she said.
“I am in an unusual position of being stuck on a boundary. Nonetheless, it’s critical that this area’s future is cemented, whether that’s in partnership with the city council or joint partnership between city, county, and Coillte.”
She acknowledged the outpouring of concern locally.
“There was huge opposition to this locally.
“There was a huge number of objections and a significant acknowledgement and value of the importance of this area in the community,” she said.
“Everyone’s wish was to keep the area as it is.”