Just one of the many beautiful and popular walks in Ards Forest Park
Coillte has just released new figures revealing that there was a large increase in visitor numbers to one of their forests in Donegal.
Ards Forest Park can track visitor numbers and recorded 15,038 visitors between June and August. This was a significant increase on visitor numbers in April and May, during the height of Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The park, which is to be found at Cashelmore, half way between Creeslough and Dunfanaghy, covers approximately 480 hectares (1200 acres) and includes a variety of habitats, among them sand dunes, beaches, salt marshes, salt water lakes, rock face and, of course, coniferous and deciduous woodlands.
During March and April 2020, when Covid restrictions were at their most limiting, Coillte saw a large drop in visitor numbers as non-essential travel was restricted.
However, since travel restrictions were lifted on June 19, visitors have begun returning to Coillte’s forests across Ireland.
Coillte is Ireland’s leading provider of outdoor recreation activities in Ireland with more than 3,000 kilometres of trails, 260 recreation sites and 12 forest parks across the country.
Imelda Hurley, chief executive of Coillte said: “Since restrictions were eased and people could move more than five kilometres from their homes, we, unsurprisingly, saw an immediate large increase in visitor numbers.
"In fact, there was a significant increase in visitor numbers in one of Coillte’s Donegal forests since lockdown restrictions were eased in June, Ards Forest Park. This continued, steady increase is heartening for all of those who cherish our amenities.
“Access to nature is very important for the body, mind and spirit and that is why we work hard to maintain our tracks, parks and outdoor recreational facilities across Donegal.
“As we approach the end of August, and people take time to enjoy our forests, we ask that visitors continue to adhere to the social distancing rule of two metres when meeting others outside of their household, as well as the other guidelines on outdoor gatherings announced by the Government.
"I want to thank the public for adhering to the Government’s travel restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown. If we continue to remain vigilant, we can all play our own part in protecting our communities," she said.
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