The article below appears in WICKLOW TIMEs on 13/9/22 page 17.


Forestry to be planted beside Tiglin’s Brittas Bay rehab centre


Since 2010, Brittas Bay has been home to Tiglin's residential rehabilitation centre for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Now, along with the open air and idyllic coastline, these women will benefit from the afforestation of half an acre of the surrounding land with a variety of broadleaf tree species. Ireland was once the most forested country in Europe and, following centuries of decline, recent years have seen a resurgence in tree planting, thanks to an increased awareness of the importance of forests for biodiversity and tackling climate change.

With half an acre of available land, covered mostly by grass and bracken, it was an easy decision for Tiglin to apply for an afforestation grant from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Afforestation is distinct from reforestation: reforestation plants new trees in a forest where the number of trees is shrinking, whereas afforestation is the planting of new forests where there currently are no trees.

This afforestation project is taking place on a particularly special piece of land, as the trees will share their new home with women in recovery. The women's centre in Brittas Bay is a safe haven for women who have had addiction issues, and who are coming from what are often troubled and chaotic lives. As they focus on healing, growing, and gaining new life skills, it is fitting that these vulnerable women will be the ones to care for this forest in its earliest stages.

The new woodland will provide an opportunity for the women to learn about and enjoy the benefits of forestry. As the trees mature into a forest, they will also help to prevent soil erosion, absorb CO2 from the air, and preserve and increase habitats for wildlife. At the same time, as the women progress through Tiglin's recovery program, their journey will equip them with a resilience against life's erosions, helping them to form and maintain habits and skills for life after the program.

There is a beautiful symbiosis between the women in recovery benefiting from the restorative power of trees, and the trees that will benefit from the nurturing input of these women. As the women heal, so does the land. As well as providing wrap-around supports for those recovering from addiction, Tiglin is also a leading organisation in tackling homelessness in Wicklow, Dublin and Kildare. The aim of this project is to plant 10,000 trees on the unused land (a mixture of 40% oak, 20% birch, 20% hazel, and 20% other broadleaf species). This is a poignant number for Tiglin, as figures released by the Department for Housing earlier this year revealed that 10,000 people are now homeless in Ireland.

By choosing to use their land in this sustainable and innovative way, Tiglin is branching into caring for Ireland's land as well as her people. As the women in recovery prepare for a new beginning, a forest is reborn in the field next door.