Image courtesy of WTPL/Gregor Fulton
The wood at Prehen, acquired by the Woodland Trust in 2003, is predominately beech with an oak canopy and hazel/holly understorey. There is good beech and oak regeneration. Prehen Wood is home to at least 60 different types of plants, including bluebells, lesser celandines and wood anemones which bloom in profusion each year. Birds such as sparrowhawk and long-eared owl live in the wood, as does the endangered red squirrel (every day local volunteers put food out in special feeders to make sure they stay). The entire wood has Tree Preservation Order status and was designated a Site of Local Conservation Nature Importance in the 1990s. The wood has terrific views overlooking the city and River Foyle with free public access across all of the site and waymarked routes.
Prehen Wood is a remnant of the extensive woodland that once covered much of the east bank of the River Foyle from the Craigavon Bridge into County Tyrone. Prehen Wood was once part of the Prehen House Estate, which in 1876 totalled 358 hectares (885 acres). At the outbreak of the First World War the estate was sequestered by the government, because the last of the Knox family married a German National.After the War the estate was sold off in pieces, including the remaining woods, which were sold in 1929 for timber production.A local outcry ensued about the imminent destruction of the woodland and the editor of the local paper took up the cause, calling for some timber to be left standing. Prehen Wood was spared.
In 2003, with a lot of support from Prehen Historical and Environmental Society, the Woodland Trust acquired the wood at Prehen to ensure this wonderful ancient woodland site would be conserved for the benefit of future generations. It is a wood for all seasons providing year round enjoyment for thousands of visitors. Spring brings an amazing array of woodland flowers, only matched by autumn's stunning colour. Privileged visitors may even catch a glimpse of some special wild inhabitants. There are several walking routes waiting to show you the way. Dogs are permitted on a lead at all times.
Throughout the woodland there are a series of numbered waymarkers. These relate to the Ecotrail. The environmental trail encourages young people to develop an awareness and appreciation of the natural and built environment. It is also linked to the sport of orienteering.
Image courtesy of WTPL/Steven Kind
Visitors will now be greeted by some additional, crafty woodland creatures. A squirrel, fox, badger, hedgehog and butterfly will keep a still and watchful eye on you as you explore this quiet corner of nature. The new wooden sculptures were created by sculptor Michael Rodgers and were inspired by children from the local Rosemount Primary School.
Image courtesy of WTPL/Carol Hutton