Judges from the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) Forestry Awards have visited Learmount Forest in the Park area of Co Derry.

The forest is one of over 30 applicants across Ireland competing for the coveted prize of being named, ‘Woodland of the Year’.

The Awards are designed to recognise community woodlands which have been developed and managed in a way which is of significant benefit to the landscape, biodiversity and local people.

Owned and managed by Forest Service, Learmount Forest covers 118 hectares of the foothills of the north Sperrin Mountains and provides an important educational and recreational resource for the rural village of Park and surrounding areas.

Learmount Community Development Group, in partnership with DARD Forest Service, Derry City and Strabane District Council and RAPID , actively monitor the Forest and host a range of environmental education and volunteering initiatives for young children and adults alike such as wildlife clubs, bat nights, walking events and photography clubs.

These initiatives are pivotal to actively engaging the community in their Forest and wider area ensuring environmental sustainability.

In attendance at the judging event were representatives from the community (including children from the Learmount Wildlife Adventure Cluband a Celtic bard who provided the judges with a historical portrayal of life in the area during Celtic times!) DARD Forest Service, RAPID and Derry City and Strabane District Council which highlights the strong working partnership which has been formed in recent years in order to oversee the upgrading of the path network, redevelopment of the Play Park and installation of interpretative signage.

Learmount Community Development Group will know the outcome of the judging process at a presentation event in Dublin in October.

Photo shows (from left) Caroline Lynch (LCDG), Philip O’Kane (RAPID), Thomas Conway (LCDG), Michael Cregan (RDS Irish Forestry Awards), Jonathan Henderson (DCSDC), Kenny Acheson (Forest Service), Dr Alistair Pfeifer (RDS Irish Forestry Awards), Danny McCartney (Derry City and Strabane District Council) & Ciaran Cassidy (Forest Service).

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