Grace Dieu, Waterford

The Native Woodland Trust have recently taken in charge a new site, on the outskirts of Waterford city, in conjunction with Waterford council.

The site is a 7.5 acre site, bounded by the River Suir and the N25; it was created during contruction work for the new City bypass, and was used to store topsoil excavated as part of the road building.

It is elevated from the river, and is covered in early colonising plants and some gorse. There is a line of willow and ash bordering the site, and the will have started to colonise part of the site.

The aim is to recreate a native Irish woodland on the site as close as possible to what would have naturally existed there. To do this effectively it is best to mimic the natural process by which a native woodland would have originally have establish itself. This would follow the following pattern:

  1. Pioneer species (probably willow, alder, birch) would become established growing quickly to form a canopy, and a woodland micro-climate which would allow other species to thrive.
  2. the hardy pioneer species grow and the conditions become more favourable, other species such as Oak, Ash, Elm, holly and hazel would come in. The Oak and Ash as longer lived species will over time outlive, and out-compete the pioneer species and become the dominant canopy tree.
  3. When the canopy closes over species which are tolerant of lower light conditions such as Holly and Hazel will emerge as an under story species. The existing grass and gorse would die off in the low light conditions and woodland flowers and grasses would take over the ground level.
  4. The edge of the woodland will favour smaller light loving species
    Naturally this would take several hundred years to fully evolve. While it will still take a life time to develop it can to some extent be speeded up by planting and protecting the juvenile trees to maximise growth.

Location Map

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The site can be found on Google Maps here:

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A suggested planting timeline has been developed, subject to availability of local seed:

To find out about planting and seed gathering events contact us at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2011

  • Summer: Survey of the site
  • Fencing of the site to prevent stock ingress and to secure from railway

2012

  • Setting out of route for the main path through the woodland
  • Assessment of local woodlands as possible seed banks
  • Establishing links with local community
  • Autumn: Collection and preparation of what local seed may be appropriate
  • Winter hibernation

2013

  • Spring planting of the seed collected the previous autumn
  • Summer Care of the seeds and saplings
  • Completion of paths
  • Collection of Elm seeds if found in the area
  • Autumn: Collection of seeds - collection and planting of acorns in conjunction with local schools

2014

  • Spring Planting of 2012/2013 saplings
  • Planting of previous autumn's seeds
  • Summer Care of the 2012 seeds and saplings
  • Care of the planted saplings
  • Collection of Elm seeds if found in the area
  • Autumn: Collection of seed and the preparation of same
  • Scouting of acorn harvest - collection and planting of acorns in conjunction with local schools

2015

  • Spring Planting of 2013/2014 saplings
  • Planting of seeds
  • Summer Care of the 2013 seeds and saplings
  • Care of the planted saplings
  • Collection of Elm seeds if found in the area
  • Autumn: Scouting of acorn harvest - collection and planting of acorns

2016

  • Spring Planting of 2014/2015 saplings
  • Summer Care of the planted saplings
  • By 2017 the site should be completely planted with pioneer species and some Oak.
  • Depending on the level of local involvement it may be completed before this date.
  • After 2017 some of the pioneer species be thinned by ring barking to promote growth of the healthier trees and leave space for the introduction of hazel, holly and more Oak and ash.
  • From 2022 on when the grass and gorse has died back some woodland floor flowers will naturally start to regenerate.

This can be further aided by the reintroduction of seeds and plants from the old woodlands in the vicinity of Gracedieu.