By Elizabeth Lee
MORE than 200 students from Educate Together National School in Carlow have rowed in behind a campaign to save a woodland that’s up for sale by Greencore.
The 12-acre woodland is part of the Carlow Gateway complex in Strawhall with access from the Athy Road, close to the Educate Together school. The wood is currently zoned for community, educational or institutional purposes and local campaigners are keen that it is preserved and used by the people of Carlow. The entire estate is up for sale by Greencore, the company that owned Carlow sugar factory, which it closed in 2005 with the loss of hundreds of jobs.
A Save the Strawhall Woodlands group was set up by a number of campaigners, including its spokesperson Sinéad Tynan. They want a comprehensive survey carried out into the trees and have written to Greencore about the matter. They also want the woodlands to be preserved and donated to the community of Carlow. They’re concerned, too, that the wood will be destroyed if the land is sold and
rezoned for residential development.
Sinéad and another campaigner, Tanya O’Neill from the Clean Carlow voluntary group, are currently trying to establish the species of trees that are in the woods and their ages.
“This is a gem of a woodland. It has to be saved because we believe that there are 100-year-old oak trees there,” said Sinéad.
Sinéad has welcomed the children’s involvement and hopes that other schools in Carlow get involved, too.
“The children from Educate Together have worked very hard on this. It’s important that their voices are heard,” said Sinéad.
The pupils wrote to all the other schools in Carlow town to raise awareness about the woodland and its future, while they’ve also written to cllr Adrienne Wallace and presented a letter to minister Malcolm Noonan.
“They’re quite worried that the woods will be destroyed right on our doorstep. It would be a brilliant educational resource in so many ways and is within walking distance of so many schools in the town,” said Simon Lewis, principal of Educate Together.
Cllr Wallace raised the matter at this month’s meeting of Carlow County Council and got unanimous backing from the other councillors. They’ve called on Greencore to gift the land back to the people of Carlow and have written to the company requesting it to donate the land to the community.