Meelin Native Irish Woodland and Nature Reserve. Planting Phase II Event November 19th + 20th 2016
Authors Roisin Byrne, Pat McMahon + Images by Loraine Moore and Pat McMahon.
On November 19th + 20th 2016 GreenFriends Volunteers made their way to Meelin Co. Cork to plant the second phase of Meelin GreenFriends Native Irish Woodland.
Within Phase I Approximately 500 trees were planted. All native and where possible indigenous. (From native Irish seed). Within Phase II an additional 500 trees total to be planted. Concepts for Meelin Phase II are as a nature reserve and a journeyway with pause points woven throughout. We are proposing a habitat mosaic to include Woodland, Wild Meadow, Heritage Orchard and Pond. It goes far beyond planting trees and into careful consideration of the inherent ecosystems of the land, seeking the optimum range of habitats, which can emerge.
We really want to thank everyone who made the journey to Meelin to plant the trees over the two days. Even though snow covered the ground the weather was a bit cold, but we soon warmed up as we got stuck into the work.
We also want to thank every one who made a donation to cover the cost of the trees and rabbit protection to the trees. 100% of all donations go into creation of these beautiful habitats. Image below is of an oak tree donated by a young girl at the Amma program in October 2016, its so lovely to know donated trees have a place to grow where they will be nourished and cherished into long life.
Saturday 19th November
With the first volunteers, four international first year students arriving from Kinsale permaculture collage we walk around the nature reserve. We illustrate the rational behind the planting.
Shelter belt: We are putting in a shelter belt on the recommendation of Trever Dean arboriculturist upon his site inspection in July 2016. The site is currently protected from wind by a neighbouring mature conifer plantation, which is likely nearing optimal harvest date. The ground conditions on this part of the site are wet and peaty, predominately, specie selection is mainly Willow, some Scots pine with Hazel and occasional oak to the upper edge of the shelterbelt.
We then show the students the pond and journey uphill through the nature reserve as it opens out to a mix of semi natural grassland and bare ground where the gorse has been removed. We will plant oak and birch groupings here. Birch is said to reduce the acidity of peaty soil over time and is a pioneer specie, this will partner well with the oak over time. (Recommendations as per the Irish Woodlands trust). We will also plant mixed specie to the existing wire and post boundary edge to the north side of the site. We circle back to beginning of our walk.
We give a demonstration of how to plant the trees, first pruning excessive root systems to encourage the roots to grow outward. When planting we are mindful to retain the level of the nursery line. This means planting the tree to the same depth as they were in the nursery. We will inspect the trees periodically from spring on. We demonstrate the spacing by pacing and laying out stakes and one of the students takes on this job. We demonstrate use of rabbit protection and bamboo stakes. Throughout the day additional volunteers arrive and demonstrations are made in planting to those who require it.
We encouraged people to bring food to share and in addition people stayed and helped in the kitchen. A big pot of vegetarian food was served with lots of additional salads and deserts.
This made for a wonderful hearty lunch which was greatly appreciated.
More oaks were donated and these we made a large circle of in the upper part of the site. Birch are used as companion planting. We have about 300 trees planted on the first day. Work was demanding but pleasant, with a good-hearted atmosphere. We finished by sharing tea back at the house capturing a closing group photograph, before the volunteers who were not staying over left.
Sunday 20th November 2016
We begin with the Scots Pine down by the pond, and then with the Alder and Willow mix which we are using to settle in the ground around the pond. Hazel will join the connecting route. Once this is done we move up into the more elevated part of the nature reserve, where the views are beautiful. We plant a mix of Alder and donated Ash to the northern boundary. We also make a very simple Willow hut construction, choosing a center point and setting willow at 2 foot spacing along the circumference of the circle. This can be easily woven into a dome hut over time. Cuttings can also be taken from the willow to produce more plants. Once the boundary is planted we plant the remaining oaks to the nature reserve. The dark evening is coming in quickly so we stop after planting in the Oaks.
Lunch and tea were gratefully received during the day and the importance of these shouldn’t be underestimated as contributing factors to a pleasant tree-planting event.
Work on the nature reserve is continuously ongoing. The image above is of the first round house on the Meelin nature reserve.
Beautiful tree vouchers can still be purchased for our woodlands and nature reserves including our next planting events in Aught Donegal. http://www.ammaireland.org/gf-amma-woodland.html#meelin_trees
We will keep you posted in the new year, but in the meantime we in the GreenFriends Ireland Team wish you all a warmhearted and peaceful Christmas.