Jonesborough’s Sleeping Beauty Awakes
Jonesborough Woods at the back of the Jonesborough Pastoral Centre which lay dominate for a number of years has now got a face lift, thanks to the hard work of Jonesborough Community Association and the Ring of Gullion Partnership Scheme. The woods had it’s grand opening on Saturday 8th July with a family fun day.
Councillor Roisin Mulgrew, Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council explains, “The woods was planted roughly 20 years ago on Parish land behind Jonesborough Pastoral Centre. A lot of effort went into making this an inviting place to walk; with paths, picnic benches and a small pond. Sadly though, as the woods grew, it was forgotten about, a bit like Sleeping Beauty, though instead of being hidden by a high thorny hedge, a high bank of cherry laurel did the same job.
Far from sleeping though, the woods continued to grow and develop, to become a thriving woodland habitat for all manner of woodland plants and animals, from a thick carpet of bluebells and wood sorrel to nesting song birds and breeding rabbits. Four years ago, during the winter of 2013/2014 the Ring of Gullion Partnership Scheme and volunteers began the work of restoring Jonesborough Woods to its former glory. Most of the clearance work of removing the cherry laurel, clearing the paths, removing invasive gorse and coppicing the hazel has been done by hand.”
Recently the local community association, with help from the Ring of Gullion AONB Officer, secured Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s Challenge Fund money to finish off the rejuvenation. The paths were restored; interpretation boards and new picnic benches created by Clanrye Group have been added along with a story telling area for children. It is a beautiful and inviting place to go for a walk and spend time in nature.
The partnership is working with Spouncer Ecology consultants and the people of Jonesborough to draw up a five-year community-linked management plan for the woods.
As Jonesborough is a living, thriving woodland there will always be work to do, particularly in the winter. If you’d like to get involved in the upkeep of Jonesborough Forest contact our Volunteer & Outreach Officer, Alison, on 028 3082 8594 or [email protected]
If you’d like to see photographs of the restoration of Jonesborough Forest visit the Gallery page.