April 25th, 2016
The ESB, National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), Cork County Council and Inland Fisheries Ireland are exploring options to potentially save a rare river forest in County Cork.
The Gearagh, near Macroom , County Cork, was controversially flooded 60 years ago to provide water for the hydroelectric dams at Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid.
Thousands of native oak and yew trees were chopped down in the flooding and many people were forced to leave their homes. The salmon population on the river, once numbered at around 15,000 in a season, now comes in at closer to 500, partly due to the insufficient ‘fish passes’ in place in the dam, which prevent the same numbers from reaching their spawning grounds further up the river. Prior to the flooding of the area, angling was a key contributor to the local economy in the off-season and the wetlands acted as a flood barrier for the Upper Lee area. This was illustrated by Declan O’ Mahony’s 2014 documentary ‘River Runner’.
It is one of four inland forest deltas in the world, and of these, it is said to be in the best condition. There are already signs of the delta making a recovery, according to Kevin Corcoran of the West Cork Ecology Centre, and lowering the level of the water could see the system restored to its former glory in a matter of decades.
Declan O’ Mahony has set up a petition to gain public support for the restoration of the ancient alluvial woodland.