Destruction of 20 year old community Woodland planted in Terryland Forest Park.

I was emotionally shattered to see this morning the destruction of the first woodland lovingly and proudly planted by thousands of Galwegians of all ages, assisted by dozens of council staff, in Terryland Forest Park on March 11th 2000.
Multiple tents have sprung up over the last few days in the woods and paths of this area near the Quincentennary Bridge. Trees and life buoy holders have been ripped up to make fire wood. Cans, bottles and other rubbish along with remains of nighttime fires cover the forest floor and pathways. Whilst I was there, one fire was still lit and being fueled by a person with branches being broken off trees. I worry how many more trees and their wildlife are going to disappear over the next few days. In all my years enthusiastically volunteering in Terryland, never have I witnessed such extensive damage. It is a trail of destruction.
I was contacted by one park enthusiast who lives locally and daily visits this area who told me that he was accosted by a group of very drunk tent dwellers and was lucky to flee. He reported the incident to Mill Street Garda Station. He was informed by other locals that they were harassed over the last few days. This particular area has now suddenly become a 'no go' zone. I am heartbroken.
Terryland Forest Park has seen a huge upsurge in numbers of people using it since the Lockdown began in March. It was/is a park created by the people of Galway for the people and wildlife of the city.
This recent anti social behaviour could destroy this progress.
No one has a right to destroy public property, or precious urban wildlife habitats or wipe out the herculean efforts of thousands of volunteers of all ages who planted this woodland twenty years ago.
I have informed the Garda and the council including Mayor Mike Cubbard
I had already agreed a meeting for next week with parks officials to go through the details for establishing a group of volunteer rangers to assist full time staff, something that I have been requesting City Hall to set up for many years but which was thrown out of sync earlier this year due to the Lockdown and subsequent COVID restrictions. I was so looking forward to working with council on this initiative. But the Garda have to be part of this process. We need to ensure that the people of Galway have a right to enjoy public parks without fear of intimidation or of being physically attacked.
COVID has shown the vital importance of green and blue spaces to our health and the planet. We need to protect them now more than ever.

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