Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Andrew Doyle has announced a series of nationwide events, including one in Waterford, to promote his department’s NeighbourWood Scheme.

The NeighbourWood Scheme provides funding for the establishment of neighbourwoods, which are “close-to-home” woodlands developed through local partnerships for recreational use by local communities.

A NeighbourWood Scheme information event will held in Dunmore East on Tuesday 16th October. Information events are also taking place in Kerry and Mayo.

“Those neighbourwood projects which we have established already have proved to be hugely successful and I would like to see more of these being developed across the country for local communities to enjoy,” Minister Doyle.

“The health benefits of spending time outdoors and connecting with nature and the changing seasons cannot be overstated. My Department is holding three NeighbourWood Scheme information events over the coming months to increase awareness of this scheme and to encourage community groups, local authorities and others to develop their very own projects”.

The NeighbourWood Scheme forms part of DAFM’s Forestry Programme 2014-2020 and provides funding for local communities, local authorities and others to develop these woodland amenities. A total budget of €1.75m is being made available by the Minister’s Department with the aim of establishing up to 20 neighbourwood projects by the end of 2020.

Neighbourwoods can also link in with wider walking and cycle trails, complement other visitor attractions, and provide the ideal ‘outdoor classroom’ for school children, and indeed everyone, to learn about our natural heritage and local history. Neighbourwoods can vary greatly in size and location, from forests in the countryside and on the outskirts of our villages, towns and cities to woodlands in more built-up areas. The NeighbourWood Scheme is available to local authorities and private landowners working in partnership with local communities.

The Minister concluded: “I would encourage all those who see potential for developing an amenity woodland in their area to come to one of these information events. They will get a chance to meet with community groups and foresters who have successfully completed their own local projects, and also to visit an existing initiative funded under the NeighbourWood Scheme. My Department will also be on hand to answer any questions on how to access the scheme.”