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2,000 Native Scots Pine Return to Glenveagh National Park

National Parks and Wildlife Service staff at Glenveagh National Park Co. Donegal, one of the State’s six national parks, have planted 2,000 native Irish Scots Pine trees in the Upper Glen of the park – the largest plantation of its kind that has been established to date. This activity is part of a broader suite of measures to improve native woodland habitat condition in the park.


While Scots Pine of Scottish origin have been present in the park since the 1860s, the recently-planted trees are of native Irish origin, sourced from a nursery grower in County Galway who collected the pine seed in the Burren National Park, under licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. This native Scots Pine woodland in Glenveagh is the first step in a wider native woodland conservation programme in Glenveagh National Park that will focus on the long-term vision of creating favourable conditions for natural woodland habitat within the park. Ongoing measures to curb invasive species, deer management and the creation of a tree nursey in the park are also part of this conservation effort. 

The establishment of a native Irish Scots Pine population at Glenveagh National Park will help to ensure the survival of the native Irish Scots pine and, in years to come, the seed from these trees will be an invaluable source for future generations of the species. The planting location, in a 1.6 hectare field next the Stalking Hut in the upper Glen, has been carefully chosen to ensure the trees will grow well and produce good seed. To establish good woodland, the soil must be suitable and the trees must be safe from grazing deer.


Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD said:


“Scots Pine is a tree species native to Ireland and its reintroduction to one of our six national parks is testament to the work our National Parks and Wildlife Service is doing to restore native woodlands. Woodland is home to a wealth of wildlife and supports other plants, birds and insects in these ecosystems. I am proud of the work of our teams on the ground in Glenveagh and look forward to seeing these trees develop into a woodland of native Irish trees restoring some of Glenveagh’s natural heritage and paying tribute to its history.”


The reintroduction of the species to Glenveagh National Park has special significance as the Scots Pine has been a part of the park’s history dating back as far as the 1860s. The species was thought to have become extinct in Ireland but was reintroduced from Scotland. Within Glenveagh, the first plantation at Derrylaghan was planted in John George Adair's time in the mid-1860’s before Glenveagh Castle was built. Later in the 1880’s shelter belts were established for the Castle Gardens in the Pleasure Ground area. More shelter Scots Pine trees were planted around 1900 to the rear of the Castle.


Although it is a common sight in woodlands, it was believed until recently that all Scots Pine in Ireland was non-native in origin. However, in recent years, ecological data has led researchers to conclude that indigenous “relict” Scots Pine woodland has persisted in the Irish landscape. “Relict” trees refer to trees that at an earlier time were abundant in a large area but now occur only in one or a few small areas.  In this instance, a relict native pine woodland in the Burren was identified as a suitable provenance source for the re-establishment of this very rare native Irish tree.  

The stumps of ancient “Bog Fir” found in the wet and acidic conditions of Blanket Bogs are a reminder that expansive woodlands of native Scots Pine dominated the Donegal landscape 4 to 6,000 years ago.




Notes for Editors / Further Information


Glenveagh National Park (16,000 ha) lies in the heart of County Donegal, among the wild and rugged landscape of the Derryveagh Mountains. Its pristine habitats and protected wildlife, and its trails taking in the stunning Victorian Castle and Gardens along Lough Veagh, make Glenveagh the ideal escape for lovers of the natural world.


Whether you’re here to learn about Ireland’s unique biodiversity or just want to explore one of Ireland’s most breathtaking landscapes, we can help you plan your visit and discover how to help us achieve our mission of protecting the Glenveagh wilderness for generations to come.


Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) can by identified by its orange/red bark colouring and its blue green needles that grow in pairs.


John George Adair was a Scots-Irish businessman and landowner who built Glenveagh Castle and founded the Glenveagh estate. The estate passed to his wife Cornelia Adair and was then sold to Arthur Kingsley Porter in 1929, before being bought by Henry Plumer McIlhenny in 1937. In 1975, Glenveagh Estate was purchased for the State from Mr McIlheney by the Office of Public Works and in 1981 Mr McIlhenny bequeathed Glenveagh Castle and gardens as a gift to the Irish nation.


National Biodiversity Week took place from May 19th – 28th with events across the country celebrating nature and connecting people to biodiversity initiatives in their local area Community groups and those working on the frontline to protect nature and prevent further biodiversity loss will be putting on a huge variety of events nationwide over the week with something for everyone toand learn more about the plants, animals and habitats that form our biodiversity.