Woodland Development at Ballyseedy Woods

Ballyseedy Woods, Kerry

Ballyseedy Woods are situated 2km east of Tralee just off N21. The woodland includes alluvial forest which is a priority habitat listed on Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive and is a candidate Special Area of Conservation. As part of the realignment of the N21 it was planned to have an interchange adjacent to and partially within the woodland. The road routing was altered as a result of a ruling at European level. The Local Authority was left with 32ha of 400 year old woodland for which they had no plans. This did not remain the case for long.

The local authority have subsequently developed northern and southern public entrances and car parks, 4 KM of gravelled pathways within the woodland, directional signage, formulated a 50 year woodland management plan, a 15 year recreational management plan and a built heritage management plan. Surveys have been undertaken on dangerous trees, bats, badgers, woodland content including alien invasive species.

Management of rhododendron, laurel and snowberry is in its third year and approximately 4.5ha of these species have been removed. Woodland management training for outdoor staff is ongoing this includes flora & fauna identification, invasive alien species eradication, tree felling and coppicing. A seed bank has been created off site with the co-operation of Gortbrack Organic Farm and Kerry Earth Education Project. Planting bays which were formally inhabited by non native species or invasive alien species are being cleared and natural vegetation is being encouraged to re-populate these areas. Seedlings will be introduced from the seed bank where necessary.

A river walkway is proposed which will link the woodlands to an urban river walk developed by Tralee Town Council and the Blennerville canal walkway which leads 2km to the west of Tralee. These walkways link with the North Kerry Way marked Trail.

Projects are underway to work with local craftspeople to use coppiced woods in green wood furniture making. Timber which has been felled for safety works or alien invasive species eradiation has been offered to artists working with wood who will return a worked piece to the Local Authority in payment. Some are opting to work with tree stumps in situ which we hope will develop in to an added attraction within the woodland.

Funding is being sought to develop educational and directional signage within the woodland. The website is being upgraded to incorporate educational material, which was devised as part of the recreational management and built heritage management plans, for schoolchildren and their teachers, on the built and natural heritage of the woodland.

It is hoped that using innovative management techniques that some of the revenue required to maintain the woodland on an annual basis will be sourced from sustainable products from the woodland itself. Local Authority staff are being up-skilled to undertake the majority of the physical management required. Local Authority Engineers, Outdoor Staff, Heritage Officer, County Archaeologist, Arts Officer, Environmental Education Officer, are all working with the Forest Service, National Parks and Wildlife Service, South Western Regional Fisheries Board, Ballyseedy Action Group, An Taisce, Kerry Earth Education Project and Gortbrack Organic Farm and local schools to create a sustainable woodland that forms a unique recreational space and biodiversity reserve for the people of Kerry and its visitors.

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