Blessington is one of the latest sites the Native Woodland Trust has acquired for the purposes of replanting with native trees and plant species.
The Blessington site is a sixteen acre site situated in County Wicklow, on the N81 on the border with Kildare, with a substantial shoreline on the Blessington reservoir, and a wetland area in the centre of the site.
Over the next few years, the Trust will plant the site with native varieties of trees, also sourcing seed locally from any identifiable ancient woodland where possible. Part of the development plan will take into consideration the existing tree cover, which includes both broadleaf and conifer non-native species. The site will also be surveyed for existing flora and fauna, and in the event that important flora or fauna would be threatened by planting, such planting will not take place.
Long eared owls and buzzards roost around the site, and we have observed a healthy population of newts. We have also recorded several species of bat, including Daubenton's and pipistrelles, and there is a seemingly active badger sett also on site.
No trees will ever be harvested in this woodland and no hunting will ever be permitted, except in the case of invasive exotic species.
The Trust has been set up in such a way that even if it is dissolved, the woodlands must be transferred to the care of another similar organisation – so the continuity of your gesture is made certain.
An explanation of the layout of the Blessington site:
- (Pink) Dry grassland - this is on roughly the same level as the N81 and is favoured by the Dingy Skipper, an endangered butterfly.
- (Red) This slope has been colonised by Buddleia; the slope is east facing. The Buddleia will be left in place pending a decision on its future; it is not a native plant, yet provides a food source for butterflies and other pollinating insects.
- (Cyan) This is a steep sandy slope, south east facing and is up to 20 foot high at its tallest. This is obviously a warm slope and so attracts varied species of insects.
- (Yellow) This is primarily marshland; the site was once a sand quarry, and this ground is approximately 20 foot lower than the level of the N81; it becomes very wet in winter, but can dry out completely in summer. Willow, and to a much lesser extent, oak, has started to regenerate on this section. Reeds have colonised the wetter sections also.
- (Blue) This is an avenue of beech, dating back as far as 250 years, possibly, and probably dates to a planting on the site which later became Russborough Estate.
- (Green) This is a plantation of evergreens, probably planted to stabilise the land at the edge of the reservoir. There are some flowers such as bugle growing in the undergrowth, but the undergrowth is limited in interest, given the shade the evergreens cast.