The Peoples Millennium Forests project

Submissions were invited from the public in 1998, which resulted in over 30 proposals from numerous sources, including individuals, State-bodies, research institutions, ENGOs and private enterprises. Amongst others, proposals included the restoration of existing native woodlands, the creation of new native woodlands and the establishment of native tree nurseries. Subsequent to the refinement of these proposals, submissions were made to the National Millennium Committee and to AIB Bank in 1999. Approval was sanctioned and funding provided, which amounted to €5.1 million, which is the largest native woodland project ever, to date. Coillte Teo., was given responsibility to manage the project in partnership with Woodlands of Ireland. A Project Management Board guided the project throughout its duration and consisted of the sponsors (the National Millennium Committee, AIB Bank and the Forest Service), the project manager (Coillte Teo.) and partner organisations (Woodlands of Ireland, National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Heritage Council and ENGOs. The primary objectives of the project was  the creation of awareness amongst the general public and the restoration and creation of sixteen native woodlands nationwide, including two in Northern Ireland. In addition, a range of ancillary programmes, including education, involvement, public relations and local promotions were implemented in an effort to engage the general public in a variety of different ways (see www.millenniumforests.com). A certificate was issued to every household informing them that a tree had been planted in their name at one of the Millennium woodland sites. The success of the project will only be fully realised in years to come because of its long-term nature, though already, the response from the general public has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition, the restored, planted woodland areas are now thriving and at the thicket stage of development.