‘Peace Forest’ plans for former barracks site

March 13, 2017

One thousand native trees are to be planted on the site of the former British army military barracks in Forkhill, as part of a project to create a ‘Peace Forest’ on sites along the border.

The base, which was a regular target for paramilitary attacks, is one of a number of border sites where a total of 4,000 trees will be planted as part of the scheme.

Revealing the project, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Gillian Fitzpatrick said, “The idea of the Peace Forest is to bring communities closer together in the planting of trees and in celebrating their heritage and enterprise, and seeing and seizing opportunities for joint initiatives that have the new woodland as a backdrop.”

Dismantled as part of the normalisation process under the Good Friday Agreement, Forkhill’s old barracks site was passed to the Council, having been sold off by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), and is now being transformed into a community garden.

The Peace Forest project is being developed as a partnership between the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership, Newry Mourne and Down District Council, the Woodland Trust, the Peace Forest Ireland Project and Forest Friends Ireland.

It is envisaged that it will strengthen the peace process and the principles based on the Good Friday Agreement by symbolically turning a contentious site into a wonderfully rich shared space for people from all communities and for wildlife.

The project is being delivered by the Ring of Gullion Landscape Partnership group and its Chairperson, Des Murphy said, “South Armagh is one of the least wooded areas in Europe and this lovely Peace Forest of 1,000 trees will be added to the enormous total of nearly 150,000 trees already planted over the last two and a half years of the Landscape Partnership.”

Oak, alder, willow and rowan trees are all being planted in the six-acre site and children from St. Oliver Plunkett Primary School in Forkhill assisted with the first planting, which commenced last week.