Council scoping out forest development potential
Mid Ulster District Council is undertaking public consultations to gather views from local communities regarding opportunities for the development of three forestry sites within the Council area.
The Forestry sites currently subject to consideration for Development Plans are Altmore Forest near Cappagh; Drumcairne Forest on the outskirts of Stewartstown; and Dunmoyle Forest just north of Ballygawley.
While there is currently some degree of access to the three forest sites, formal facilities are limited and the Council recognises that more needs to be done in order to unlock the potential of the three forests as another alternative for outdoor recreation in the Mid Ulster area, as well as developing a valuable community resource.
Council Chair, Councillor Cathal Mallaghan encouraged those living near to the forests in particular to participate in the scoping studies, saying,
Access to outdoor recreation nearby is an important part of making our urban and rural communities resilient during the pandemic recovery in the months to come. How to do so while appropriately expanding and protecting our most precious resources for the enjoyment of all, and at the same time prioritising the needs of our residents is the challenge. The scoping studies for Altmore, Drumcairne and Dunmoyle forests will prioritise community input to ensure that residents in those areas have a central voice in this process.”
The consultation is being facilitated on behalf of the Council by Outdoor Recreation NI. Speaking about the consultation, Outdoor Recreation NI’s Claire McLernon, said:
“ORNI’s study of outdoor recreation in Northern Ireland during 2020 demonstrated how vital local outdoor amenities such as forest parks and similar local outdoor spaces are to communities during Covid-19 lockdowns. As an organisation we believe passionately that any new developments should meet the needs of the local people as well attracting visitors from further afield. This is the time for people to share their opinions with us and so we would encourage members of the local community to complete the survey for whichever forest they have a particular interest in”.
Members of the public are invited to express their views on the future development of any of the three forest sites by taking part in the Council’s online surveys. The closing date for survey feedback is midnight on Sunday 18th April 2021. To complete a survey and to pre-register for a public information event please visit www.midulstercouncil.org/ForestScopingStudies.
Outdoor Recreation NI will also be hosting virtual Public Information events in Mid-April for each of the forest sites to supplement ideas and trends emerging from the surveys.