Coillte has been urged to scrap plans for clear felling in a woodland oasis near Cork city and declare its woodland near the city as recreational zones - just like it did in the capital.
The call came today from Independent city councillor, Kieran McCarthy on the back of concerns from residents about an application for a licence to widen a forestry road within Old Court Woods near Douglas and Rochestown.
Coillte has applied to the Department of Agriculture under the Forestry Act for a forest road licence, to create a wider 360m long road within the heart of the woods known locally as Garryduff woods. IT's understood it is to facilitate tree-felling.
However, concerned locals have compared the proposed works as like “using a machete to shave your face”.
The mixed woodland area has historical links to notable Cork families including the Ronaynes, Goolds and O’Sheas, with notable features including walls and some old ruins associated with the adjoining estate and a number of small streams that flow to Cork Harbour.
It includes significant sections of old broadleaved woodland as well as stands of conifer at the southern end, with many wonderful mature specimen horse chestnuts and sycamore along the verges of the forest tracks.
Locals say the amount of timber that can be harvested from the woods is low compared to the impact the works will have on the area, and that some trees were never replanted after a felling operation some years ago leaving a large gap on a ridge, exposing remaining trees to the elements, with several knocked during recent storms. There are also concerns about the destruction of the red squirrel’s habitat.
Mr McCarthy said apart from its historic and environmental value, the wood “stood out as a public local amenity” during the lockdown, describing it as "an oasis in the heart of suburban living".
“I do realise it's a working forest, but with more houses being constructed in upper Rochestown, I am calling on Coillte to consider the plans they rolled out in Dublin be also applied to Cork City,” said Mr McCarthy, who also urged people to make their submissions by June 11.
Coillte said 75% of the forest is managed for biodiversity with the remaining area of 1970s planted Sitka Spruce managed to retain a consistent level of tree cover.
"In 2012 this area was thinned out to allow the canopy to develop and for younger trees to grow up. Unfortunately, the storms over the last number of years have significantly damaged a number of trees in this area and the planned operation is to remove these as they may pose a health and safety concern," a spokesperson said.
"The felling works and road works would result in a temporary closure of the property to walkers for health and safety purposes."
The trees to be felled are commercial conifer trees which will support a vibrant forest industry, it said.
The agency said it acknowledges the value of the amenity, and when this site is replanted, the new roadway will facilitate walkers in the woods.