Darndale joins Barcelona and Milan in urban forest initiative

by Alison O'Hanlon
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Darndale joins Barcelona and Milan in urban forest initiative

The Dublin suburb of Darndale has become the location of a new innovative ‘urban forest’ as part of an EU funded city tree-planting initiative.

It has joined Milan, Barcelona and the Romanian city of Brasov as one of four forests being planted in the ‘UForest’ project. Three-thousand native trees, including oak, birch, willow and hazel, were planted across 4,500 square metres at Darndale Park by local school children and volunteers.

The project is led by Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Social Innovation, with Dublin City Council providing the site, trees and ongoing maintenance.

Professor Mary-Lee Rhodes, Co-Director for the Trinity Centre for Social Innovation, said urban forests provide efficient solutions to many of the challenges posed by increasing urbanisation and climate change.

“With 84% of the population of Europe expected to live in urban areas by 2050, planning more sustainable and liveable cities is crucial. Forests can reduce heat, provide better air quality and increase biodiversity.”

The major planting ceremony, involving pupils from the local Our Lady Immaculate National School, took place at the close of European Urban Forest Week.

“Things are changing for the better in Darndale,” said Dr Jack Nolan, Chairperson of the Darndale Together Implementation Oversight Group, which proposed Darndale as the site of the ‘UForest’ project and is driving the initiative locally.

“This initiative is vote of confidence in an area on a journey of significant advancement and will  have major social and environmental benefits for Darndale and its surrounds,” he said.

The social and economic difficulties which beset the Darndale area have been well documented over many years. 

In 2019, Dublin City Council assumed a central leadership role in tackling these longstanding, complex and engrained issues, engaging Dr Nolan, a retired Assistant Garda Commissioner, to undertake an in-depth review.

This resulted in the publication of a report, ‘Darndale – a long view of an enduring challenge’.

Recommendations of the report are being implemented under the auspices of the Darndale Together Implementation Oversight Group, made up of agencies serving the area.

Darndale joins Barcelona and Milan in urban forest initiative
Brendan Walsh, Mya O’Connor and Mia McMahon on the site of the new 3,000 native tree forest at Darndale Park. The project has been led by Trinity College, Dublin; Dublin City Council and the Darndale Together Implementation Oversight Group. Picture Fintan Clarke

“The Darndale community will play a full part and be involved in maintenance as well tree planting activities,” Dr Nolan added.

“The urban forest will grow to provide the community with a space to spend time together, enjoy nature and learn more about it.

“To fully embrace inclusion and unity, the forest has been planted in the shape of a doughnut, with trees forming an outer ring and a small clearing within.

“The goal is to raise awareness of the benefits of nature, while providing some basic skills to students to teach them how to plant and take care of trees. 

“Creating a bond among the Darndale community and its new urban forest will be key.”

 Uforest is a three year project which creates, promotes and shares knowledge about urban forestry.

Its aim is to foster the creation of town and city forests and greener, healthier, more resilient cities.

Pictures Fintan Clarke

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