19 April 2014

Recreation Strategy in action in Davagh Forest


Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has visited the site of a proposed multi-purpose trail to be developed by Cookstown District Council within Davagh Forest.

Minister O’Neill said: “When Forest Service launched the ‘Recreation and Social Use of Forests Strategy’ in July 2009 we were keen to realise the full potential that forests offer.

“The proposed multi –purpose trail at Davagh Forest will provide a good example of how we can promote the recreational use of our forests for the benefit of all visitors and in line with Forest Service’s strategy.  Working together with Cookstown District Council, this project will demonstrate my Department’s commitment to  working in partnership with organisations and local government to secure a more diverse range of facilities and attractions in our Forest’s, for the benefit of our rural communities and  for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”

The Minister added: “With the financial support of my Department’s Rural Development Programme the Davagh Forest Trails project will provide one of the premier locations in Ireland for recreational off-road activities and will accommodate a wide range of outdoor recreational users.”

The trails are receiving funding support of £240,000 through the Department’s Rural Development Programme. Cookstown District Council is also providing support of £89,000 towards the project.  When complete, the trails will be suitable for walking and mountain biking and Cookstown District Council anticipate that the project has the potential to attract approximately 12,000 recreational visitors per year.

Chairman of Cookstown District Council, Cllr Sean Clarke, who met with the Minister during her visit said: “I am delighted that this new key tourism initiative for Davagh Forest is progressing after many years of hard work by Cookstown District Council and others. The Trails once developed will add to the tourism product within the council which will attract additional visitors to the area’.”
Notes to editors:

1. Davagh Forest is a 1,600 hectare upland coniferous forest set in the foothills of the Sperrins, located approximately ten miles north-west of Cookstown. The forest is wholly owned by Forest Service NI (Forest Service) who actively manages the woodland focusing on commercial timber production.

2. Cookstown District Council received a Letter of Offer £240,000 from SWARD under Measure 3.3: “Encouragement of Tourism Activities” to develop a multi-purpose trail facility at Davagh Forest to accommodate a wide range of outdoor recreational users, including cyclists.  Total project cost is £329,100 and Cookstown District Council is providing the remaining £89,100.  The Council anticipate that the proposed project has the potential to attract approximately 12,000 outdoor recreational visitors per annum.

3. SWARD cluster (Cookstown, Dungannon, Magherafelt and Fermanagh council areas) is responsible for delivery of Axis 3 ‘Quality of Life’ Measures of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 on behalf of DARD. SWARD has an allocation of £20,522,227.
4.  Axis 3 of the RDP contains the following measures:

• Diversification into non-agricultural activities – Farm Diversification
• Business creation and development
• Encouragement of tourism activities
• Basic services for the economy and rural population
• Village renewal and development
• Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

5. Local councils came together in clusters to deliver the Axis 3 ‘quality of life’ measures of the Programme on a sub-regional basis, and seven clusters were formed. Each cluster works with a Local Action Group ensuring bottom-up delivery with local people responsible for local decisions.

6. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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