Minister Pippa Hackett has launched Laois’s first NeighbourWood site in Abbeyleix.
The project, in Balladine, sees the transformation of a formerly unmanaged site into a landscaped space of native woodland habitat.
“I am incredibly proud to launch the Abbeyleix Neighbourwood this morning – the first of its kind in Co Laois,” said the Minister, who has responsibility for forestry at the Department of Agriculture.
The project will establish a two-and-a-half acre native woodland adjacent to the estates of Corrán na n-Óir, Gort na n-Óir, Slí na n-Óir, Balladine Heights and Balladine Drive which are located in the middle of the heritage town.
Minister Hackett said: “The NeighbourWood Scheme brings communities and woodlands together, by helping local authorities and other landowners, both public and private, to create ‘close-to-home’ woodland amenities in partnership with communities, for local people to use and enjoy.
“It is an excellent initiative that allows communities to create spaces for environmental benefits, but also to provide opportunities for people to spend time with their families for recreation and regular exercise, and offer people ‘time-out’ and contact with the natural world.”
The Minister went on to praise Abbeyleix Tidy Towns, which is part of the NeighbourWood project.
She said: “This is not the only legacy of the hardworking and dedicated Abbeyleix Tidy Towns – in fact, it is only one of the many successful projects that the group has worked on.
“They have won Gold Medals every year between 2015 and 2019 in the Tidy Towns Competition.
“They have worked tirelessly on Climate Action and, despite the restrictions and disruptions over the last 20 months, Abbeyleix was the host community for the national low carbon communication pilot.
“And they have worked closely with the Abbeyleix Bog Project – one of the largest and most significant community managed green spaces.”
There are currently 82 NeighbourWood sites located in 24 counties, with the Abbeyleix site being the first in Laois.