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Heritage week is an opportunity for people across Ireland to celebrate our unique heritage. As part of Heritage Week 2016, Nature School held a free event for members of the local community to explore and learn about Ireland’s Native Woodlands by participating in a “Wonder in the Woods”.

The walk was led by Bernard Joyce from Nature School and woodland owner who explained the decision by his family in the late 1990’s to conserve the existing predominantly hazel woodland and convert adjoining marginal farmland to native woodland. The project was developed as a pilot scheme for the Native Woodland Scheme (NWS) which was launched around 2000 and was one of the first sites in the country developed under the NWS. The Woodland was a second place winner of the prestigious RDS Awards for the category of Multi-Puropse Forestry and commended for its use as an outdoor classroom.

The walk takes in the historic Pat Randal McDonnell’s Bridge built in the 1780’s and recounts the story of Pat Randal’s unfortunate demise at the hand of George Robert Fitzgerald of Turlough Park site of the existing Museum of Country Life.

Dr. Richard Stone and Dr. Karina Dingerkus from Giorria Environmental Services who have been carrying out a research project on the woodlands for the past number of months were there to talk about the diversity of wildlife in the woodland from birds and insects to woodland flora.

Zane Kazotniece-Joyce from Nature School gave a demonstration of wildfood foraging, outdoors cooking and how to make charcoal crayons while Bernard explained the process of Coppice Silviculture and woodland management.

Thanks to all who joined us on the walk and shared their knowledge and thanks especially to Mariusz for the beautiful photographs.

Many thanks to Joe Gowran and colleagues from Muintir Na Coille who been working for over 15 years to develop the woodland.