O'Neill Calls On DARD To Support Castlewellan Forest Park Arboretum

The South Down Assembly candidate said, “The Agriculture Minister’s abandonment of Castlewellan Forest Park is almost criminal. “Our world renowned arboretum is in now shabby and overgrown with little care, attention or funding having been given to it over the past decade. “I’ve been pressing the minister for some time to work in partnership with Castlewellan Regeneration Ltd to bring about improvements, particularly to the greenhouse, but she has failed to give us support. “We should be showcasing our park and grooming it for the world to see, making the walks inviting and attractive to local people and visitors from far and wide. “Gardening is one of the most growing pastimes in the world and it is disgraceful that the minister responsible for our Forest Service would not provide necessary funding to bring our gardens in Castlewellan Forest Park up to standard. “I would like to congratulate local man Sam Brannigan for highlighting his concerns about the increasing neglect of our arboretum which is shared by the Castlewellan community. “In the SDLP economy document ‘Economic Partnership and Recovery’ we underlined opportunities for revenue raising through the Forest Service which was short-sightedly labelled by some people as privatisation. What we actually underlined was the scope for the development of leisure activities in remote, unused forests to benefit local communities, create jobs and boost our tourism product. “We must nurture and enhance our product so it can reach its full potential. For instance the development of a playground facility in the forest park would be warmly welcomed by local families and could massively boost the levels of family tourism, including campers and those in caravans, to the park. “I will be proposing a joint initiative between Down District Council and the Forest Service in order to embellish and ensure Castlewellan Forest Park, with its once magnificent arboretum, is given the care and attention it deserves.”]]>