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O’Neill visits Arboretum at Castlewellan

1 February, 2012 - by Michelle O'Neill

Forestry Minister Michelle O’Neill has said the restoration of the Arboretum at Castlewellan Forest Park will help enhance visitor numbers.

The Minister was speaking today after a tour of the site at Castlewellan, which over the years has fallen into a state of disrepair.

The Minister said: “Castlewellan Forest Park is one of the most visited forest parks in the north, attracting over 100,000 paying visitors each year. I am determined that every effort is made to help grow the recreational use of this forest park further, and the restoration of the Arboretum is a integral part of this.”

The Minister highlighted that the current strategy for Recreational and Social Use of forests places an emphasis on the development and expansion of partnerships to unlock the potential that forests offer.

She said: “Promoting the recreational and social use of forests will attract more visitors to our forests and will provide opportunities for economic development through tourism and events. I have asked my forestry officials to meet with relevant stakeholders, funders and interested parties to scope a suitable restoration project and devise a long term plan to sustain the future of the arboretum.

“I welcome the longstanding interest shown in the gardens by the Arboretum Regeneration Committee (ARC) and, more recently, aspirations from an architectural trust.”

She continued: 

“It is clear from my visit today that there is a lot of work to be done if the gardens are to be restored to their former glory and I look forward to receiving proposals that will do this. The Gardens are an integral part of the Forest Park and we need to see how this initiative integrates with the excellent work to improve recreational services in the Council area by the Forest Service in partnership with Down District Council.”

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