Before and after satellite images show evacuation impact on Ireland’s ‘finest unspecified native woodland’

New satellite photos released online show the impact of the mass clearing of trees on County Cork’s wood, for which campaigners have been demanding state protection for several years. The effects of tree felling by the landowner of Silvergrove, a part of Toon Wood, are clearly shown in two photographs. The photo above shows a significant size of wood on the south side of the road and north of the Toon River. It has been completely cleared and replaced by a large pasture area in the ‘after’ photograph. The pictures have been highlighted by a local environmental group as a department spokesman confirmed to The Corkman that the National Parks and Wildlife Service had launched an ecological survey of a suite of forests, including Toon Wood, to get updated information on these . sites’. “The results of this survey will inform the NPWS’s view of whether it is appropriate to designate Toon Wood as a Natural Heritage Area,” the spokesperson said. The Department of Habitat, which oversees the National Parks and Wildlife Service, has been asked to designate the updated Toon Woods as a natural heritage area without delay. “McRoom and the District Environmental Group are concerned at the scale of the damage done to Toon Woods in Silvergrove, which is now evident from recent satellite imagery.” A recent High Court injunction granted owners James and Lorraine Costello only a portion of the damaged forest. ordered to be reinstated. “These areas were cut down using tree felling equipment and would grow again if allowed to do so. Unfortunately, due to a mistake by the Forest Service in reinstating forestry harvesting licenses in October 2018, the most severely damaged parts of the wood that were cleared using mechanical excavation and later converted to pasture, They are not covered by the repossession order. “We ask the National Parks and Wildlife Services to proceed with the designation in a National Heritage Area that was approved by Professor John Cross prior to his retirement as NPWS Chief Scientist in 2013.” MDEG has also sent copies of satellite images published here to Minister of State Malcolm Noonan and urged him to grant Toon Wood Natural Heritage Area status. “We have been told that a new survey is being conducted to establish Toon Woods’ suitability as an NHA candidate.” We think this is hardly a necessary expense, as this work was done in 2013 and Subsequent reports from Blackthorn Ecology are available and attached here for your convenience. It “finds the Toon Woods” of National Conservation Value due to the diversity and naturalness of the woodlands and surrounding habitats. “We call on the National Parks and Wildlife Services to proceed with the designation of Toon Woods as a National Heritage Area, which was approved by Professor John Cross before his retirement as NPWS Chief Scientist in 2013.” We call on the NPWS to use the maps that Blackthorne Ecology prepared in June 2013 for its report on Surveying and Mapping the Toon Valley, proposed to be designated as the NHA, and to ensure that All damaged woodland areas have been fenced off and allowed to reproduce or replant using seed. From the remainder of the woodland.” No estimate has been given by the Department of Habitat as to a completion date for the survey of the woodland areas and how long thereafter Toon Wood would be designated as a Natural Heritage Area if this survey In his recommendation, in 2013, Professor John Cross described Toon Wood as ‘Ireland’s finest unspecified native woodland’.