Sligo Shopping Centre Joins Forces with Forestry Charity to Expand Green Spaces

Canopy Shopping Centre Supports Hometree in Land Acquisition for Conservation Efforts in South Sligo

Hometree, a charitable organization dedicated to establishing and preserving permanent native woodlands while promoting land rejuvenation and biodiversity, has recently received support in acquiring close to 90 acres of land along the picturesque Easkey River in south Sligo. The Canopy shopping center, known for its commitment to sustainability, facilitated the purchase of this land which comprises peatland, blanket bog, ancient hazelwood, and species-rich grassland. The primary conservation goals for this site include peatland restoration and the natural expansion of the ancient hazelwoods, with a comprehensive strategy in place to enhance species diversity.

This collaboration between Hometree and The Canopy marks a significant milestone, representing a unique partnership focused on environmental conservation and community engagement. The vision for the site extends beyond conservation efforts, aiming to create a social utility that benefits biodiversity groups, school communities, and local farmers. It will serve as a central hub for environmental education and addressing the pressing challenges posed by the climate crisis, embodying a shared commitment to collective action and responsible stewardship.

Since undergoing a €1,000,000 rebrand in 2023, The Canopy has placed a strong emphasis on sustainability in all aspects of its operations. The integration of plants and trees has transformed the shopping center into a vibrant green space, complemented by the installation of solar panels that contribute to renewable energy initiatives. Jon Dunt, the center manager at The Canopy, and Ray Ó Foghlu, Hometree’s farm programs coordinator, have been instrumental in driving forward this collaborative effort towards environmental conservation.

Recognizing the urgent need to address the decline in Ireland’s biodiversity and the challenges posed by climate change, The Canopy has extended its support to Hometree’s mission of restoring the country’s ancient oceanic woodlands. Through this partnership, facilitated by The Canopy, Hometree will be able to implement a range of projects focused on land rejuvenation and biodiversity conservation through restoration and educational initiatives. The shared conservation objectives include peatland restoration and the expansion of the ancient hazelwoods, underpinned by a detailed plan to enhance species diversity.

Projects of this nature are deemed critical given the significant decrease in native woodlands in Ireland, which have plummeted from 80% to a mere 1-1.5%. Neil Monahan, the director of The Canopy, emphasized the importance of such initiatives, stating the site along the Easkey River will serve as a pivotal location for environmental engagement and climate action, showcasing a commitment to collective responsibility and stewardship. Neil added, “This is such an exciting project with Hometree. We are focused on driving a sustainable agenda, both for the center and for Sligo as a whole.”

Ray Ó Foghlu, Hometree’s farm programs coordinator, expressed optimism about the potential of the site to become a model location, inspiring local landowners to explore similar possibilities. Ray highlighted plans for a farmer outreach program aimed at providing information and financial support for woodland creation along the Easkey River. He emphasized the success of previous endeavors working with landowners in proximity to their sites, noting the abundance of old forests along the Easkey River and the potential to establish a connected ecological woodland corridor from the sea at Easkey up into the Ox mountains.

Ray elaborated on their proven process, derived from a European innovation project conducted in Clare from 2021 to 2023, which involves equipping farmers with the necessary information, support, and financial incentives to integrate trees into their farms. This holistic approach underscores the commitment of both Hometree and The Canopy to fostering sustainable practices and promoting environmental conservation in the region.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

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