Green Rehabilitation: Shelton Abbey Prison Unveils 2,000-Tree Nursery Project!

Minister Pippa Hackett Launches Shelton Abbey Pocket Forests Native Tree Nursery at Arklow Prison

Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity, Pippa Hackett, marked a significant occasion today by inaugurating the Shelton Abbey Pocket Forests Native Tree Nursery at Shelton Abbey open prison in Arklow, Co. Wicklow. This innovative project will see over 2,000 trees nurtured by prisoners under the guidance of senior prison officer Declan Jordan, before being transplanted in urban areas by communities collaborating with Pocket Forests.

The saplings, which were planted in March 2024, will be housed in the nursery until the following winter, when they will be relocated to community-created Pocket Forests aimed at addressing urban nature deprivation. This initiative, aimed at supporting climate and biodiversity action, involves the cultivation of nine different indigenous tree species sourced from Irish seed, generously provided by Coillte.

Minister Hackett expressed her enthusiasm for the project and highlighted its potential benefits, while also commending the dedication of the prisoners and the guidance provided by officer Jordan. “It’s a real privilege to be opening the Pocket Forests native tree nursery in Shelton Abbey,” she remarked. “The advantages of urban greening are manifold, whether it’s improving air quality, providing much-needed shade and cooling during hot summer days, or enhancing flood resilience.”

The care and effort invested by the prisoners in establishing the nursery did not go unnoticed, with Governor of Shelton Abbey open centre, Joseph Donoghue, expressing pride in the collaboration. “This initiative not only enriches our community by bringing nature to urban areas and combating biodiversity loss, but also offers a positive avenue for our prisoners to engage in climate and biodiversity action,” he stated.

Ciaran Fallon, Director of Coillte Nature, also shared his support for the project by providing the native Irish tree saplings. “We are thrilled to contribute to this Pocket Forest initiative by supplying the saplings,” he remarked. “It’s truly gratifying to play a small part in this inspirational project.”

Shelton Abbey, a low-security prison with a historical connection to forestry, places a strong emphasis on rehabilitation through educational and vocational activities. Pocket Forests, an award-winning social enterprise established in 2020, has successfully planted over 100 pocket forests across Ireland, promoting urban greening and biodiversity conservation efforts, according to the enterprise.

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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