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Clare County Council completes Tree Survey

Date issued: 21/03/16

A comprehensive survey of hedgerows and trees throughout south and east Clare is being targeted as a reference guide for organisations and community groups involved in the design or development of towns and villages.

The tree survey is funded by Clare County Council and the Heritage Council and has been carried out on behalf of the local authority by Nicholas de Jong Associates, a provider of specialist consultancy services in land planning, landscape architecture and urban design.

The study surveyed and recorded the existing trees in chosen settlements across east Clare, including Mountshannon, Scariff, Tuamgraney, Ogonnelloe, Killaloe, Bridgetown, O’Briensbridge and Sixmilebridge.

The survey categorises trees suitable for retention and assesses their quality and value, assesses the contribution that the trees make to the place and features recommendations to Clare County Council for tree management and enhancement. 

The findings of the survey have been welcomed by Cllr. James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, who said: "This survey importantly highlights and raises awareness of the amenity value of trees and hedgerows and shows how trees and hedgerows can contribute to sense of place and street design in the towns and villages of County Clare."

"Trees are a precious part of our heritage. Many Clare place names are derived from trees, such as Derrymore (Great Oak Wood), Culleen (Little Holly Wood), Spancilhill or Cnoc Fhuar Choille (Cold Wood Hill) and Cratloe or An Chreatalach Creatalach (Sallow Wood)," said Cllr. Breen.

"We also need to acknowledge the contribution of trees to improving air quality, enhancing our quality of life in the urban environment, and acting as an integral part of the ecosystem providing huge benefits to wildlife and biodiversity. The planting of woods and trees in urban areas also is becoming an increasingly important factor in helping to reduce flooding and poor quality water issues," he added.

Frank McCarthy, Chairperson of Sixmilebridge Tidy Towns Group said the study "will inform community groups such as Sixmilebridge Tidy Towns Group to plan, implement and maintain public area enhancement projects. Sixmilebridge Tidy Towns Group appreciates the trees in their small town and has planted a very large number of trees over the past 10 years."

Mr. McCarthy continued, "Sixmilebridge Tidy Towns Group has planted three mature oaks in the railway station car park as a result of the survey and to raise awareness of the survey locally and further add to the distinct character of the town."

Congella McGuire, Clare Heritage Officer noted: "The findings also will inform the local authority of the value of specific trees in the public realm that are under its control, as well as raise awareness of the importance of trees and hedgerow to our heritage, biodiversity and placemaking."

Ms. McGuire added, "It is envisaged that the format of the study may be used by Clare County Council as a template for additional surveys of towns and villages and in the development of a tree design guide for County Clare in 2016."

"The study will also influence future tree planting and management practice and policy in Clare County Council and add to policy development in the county development plan and local area studies," she said.

Ms. McGuire noted that the survey takes account of government policy which is to bring the national forest cover to 17%.

"Despite a high level of planting in recent years, Ireland remains the least forested country in the European Union. By the end of the year 2004, the national forest estate stood at 680,000 ha. This represents almost 10% of Ireland's total geographical area, compared to the 35% average throughout the other EU member-states.

The tree survey can be downloaded below:

Background to The Tree Survey:

The tree survey commissioned by Clare County Council firstly involved identifying and plotting the location of likely trees from aerial photos of each settlement featured. These were then checked ‘on the ground’, and the plan locations adjusted where necessary.

Trees surveyed largely concentrated on trees within the public realm, including roads, streets, parks and graveyards under the control of Clare County Council, and also trees located on or adjoining the boundaries of the public realm (located in private ownership) which have, or are likely to have, amenity impact over a wide area. Groups of trees and woodlands within or adjoining the public realm were similarly assessed and categorised. The presence of hedges and hedgerows that make a particular contribution to the character of the public realm was also noted.  

The survey was undertaken by a qualified arboriculturist, and involved surveying all trees greater than 5m in height or greater than 150mm stem diameter at 1.5m above adjacent ground level. To ascertain the species and their condition and to recommend any appropriate remedial works, all trees were individually tagged and cross-referenced to maps. The trees were visually examined and the species, condition, girth, heights of the trees were noted, and categorised.

Woodlands are the most important habitat in County Clare, in terms of amenity, nature conservation, recreation, and as an economic resource. Remaining woodland habitats are mostly oak-ash-hazel woodland, wet woodland, scrub and hedgerow. Only small pockets of ancient woodland remain. Sites designated in County Clare by the National Survey of Native Woodlands as containing stands of ancient woodland, or possible ancient woodland, comprise Bealkelly Woods, Cahiracon South, Carrowdotia South, Dromore Nature Reserve, Garranon Woods, Killinaboy/ Poulivaun Wood and Violethill.

Hedgerows also represent a significant habitat of the county and have been a characteristic feature of the landscape for centuries. They provide a habitat for many species and also wildlife corridors for animals to move through for breeding and feeding, and as reservoirs for wider biodiversity. Hedgerows are particular important on the road approaches to towns and villages, forming links with the wider landscape structure and helping to visually define the transition from countryside to urban area.

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Content Last Updated/Reviewed: 21/03/16