DAVAGH Forest will soon be home to one of Ireland’s premier outdoor activity trails, according to Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill.
The Minister visited the Coosktown site last week as work progressed on the 1,600 acre forest to enhance its multi-purpose trail facilites.
When the £400,000 project is completed, it is hoped the County Tyrone outdoor facility will attract an extra 12,000 visitors a year.
Speaking on site last week, 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.”
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.
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’.”