As a nature lover and I am deeply saddened to hear of the possible re-development of the area of woodland and undergrowth at Pairc na Coille that has served the people and wildlife of Ennis town so well over the years.
In Ireland, in times past, it is said that a squirrel could forage its way along a native woodland corridor, from coast to coast in any direction. Today, Ireland’s forest cover is only 11% compared to an EU average cover of 33.5%. This cover drops to a shocking 2% if we only count Ireland’s native trees. It is a shocking indictment that Clare County Council fail to recognize the importance of this site as a natural habitat and feeding ground for countless species of bird, bat, and other wildlife. This area of over 10 acres includes native broadleaf trees, hedgerows, and undergrowth and is a crucial ecosystem that has matured over the years.
Some of the objectives of the Clare County Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2023 are as follows:
“to promote and encourage the management of gardens and community spaces for wildlife; to raise awareness of the threats to biodiversity, and promote best practice to avoid or minimize these threats;”.
The council’s plan to flatten this area to make way for more urban development is in direct contravention with these objectives.
Ennis is the capital of Clare, a county which boasts a forest cover of about 14% which places it amongst the leaders in this area nationwide. By preserving natural areas in close proximity to town centers, we allow the opportunity for our youth and society as a whole to learn more about the importance of bio-diversity and how our native trees and hedgerows play a pivotal role in supporting ecosystems that we as humans rely upon daily. The food that we eat and the air that we breathe are intrinsically linked to the web of life. The plants, the insects, the pollinators, the birds, the bats, and the small mammals will not survive unless we change our mindset and halt the reckless abandon shown towards nature areas like the one next to Páirc no Coille. I encourage the Council to re-visit and re-consider this project as many suitable alternative less significant sites are available that will not impact the ecology of the area.