Dublin is a historic city with a rapidly-developing urban forest that will further our efforts for adapting to climate change. Historically, many of the natural woodlands were depleted, but there has been tree planting over the past 50 years and this will provide for a healthy and sustainable future for our citizens and wildlife.
The biodiversity of Dublin is of international importance and this includes its native woodlands, its river valleys and Dublin Bay. Advancing the Cities4Forests platform will serve to raise awareness and protect biodiversity. Increasingly, the urban forest is seen not just for recreation, but essential for the protection of our health and well-being, our biodiversity and the liveability of our city. Participating in the network of cities committed to managing forest resources through Cities4Forests will give Dublin and its residents a way to connect with nature and our future.
Within Dublin City, historic woodlands are freely accessible in public parks, including the Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed public park in any capital city in Europe and a National Park, and also at St. Anne’s Park, the former home of the Guinness family. Woodland conservation and restoration projects are ongoing in all of the main river valleys to provide recreation, habitats for biodiversity and water quality for the salmon and trout. Tree planting is coordinated with many local and national environmental groups, including angling associations and local schools. Conservation Volunteers Ireland promote woodland management. Native Tree Trails in public parks city-wide provide education to schools and the public in the character and folklore of our native tree species.
Dublin City is fortunate in having a number of arboreta where space is given to the growth of numerous different species of trees for educational and research value. The National Botanic Gardens, founded in 1790, has been an international center of knowledge, with many botanical explorers from here discovering and recording trees world-wide. Trinity College Botanic Garden includes an arboretum and teaching and research facilities. The Dublin City Council Millennium Arboretum is located at St Anne’s Park was planted in 1988 to celebrate Dublin’s millennium, in collaboration with the Tree Council of Ireland. The collection features over 1,000 trees which were sponsored by 1,000 people.
Part of Dublin’s heritage is the Champion Trees, which are recorded in the Tree Register of Ireland by the Irish Tree Society and the Tree Council of Ireland as the largest for their species in Ireland. Ireland also has a history of Sacred Trees, which are usually certain species that are given protection and veneration due to their associations with ancient monuments or holy wells and which are protected by the ‘little people’, called faeries.
Dublin is fortunate to have extensive native oak woodlands and the recreational forests of the Dublin Mountains and Wicklow Mountains National Park. Established in 2018, the Dublin Mountains Partnership (DMP) promotes the sustainable management of forest resources in the woodlands – both in the National Park and in privately owner woods surrounding the city. The local government bodies, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Forestry Service (Coillte) and Dublin Mountains Initiative coordinate a Volunteer Ranger Service. Through the principles of Leave No Trace, they work to raise awareness and minimize recreational impacts. We also have an “Adopt-A-Trail” program to manage the forest.
In 2015, Dublin Bay was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere in recognition of our globally-important biodiversity and our active communities. As a member of the UNESCO World Network of Island and Coastal Reserves, we work in cooperation with colleagues across the globe on protection and management of natural resources, including woodlands, sharing best practice. Through the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin and with our universities, collaboration in research on forest genetics is advanced.
The sacred trees of Dublin
According to the Annals of Inisfallen, Caill Tomair, a sacred wood dedicated to the North Germanic god Thor, was cut down under the orders of the Irish King Brian Boru when he conquered the Norse-Gaelic city of Dublin in the year 1000 CE. Sacred trees are powerful symbols across different cultures, and therefore were often targeted by rivals. In Irish folklore, many types of trees are venerated due to their associations with ancient monuments or because they are seen as the abode of particular nature spirits called faeries or ‘little people’. Trees are a valuable heritage: they form part of our history, culture, religion and society. Moreover, within urban landscapes, they make a significant contribution to people’s health and quality of life: they clean the air, provide natural, flood defences, reduce noise and promote a general sense of well-being. That is why the Dublin City Tree Strategy has a vision for the management of public trees in a long-term plan and also creates greater awareness of this valuable resource.
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