'Guerrilla gardening' behind tree initiative

Thu, Mar 22, 2012, 00:00

GUERRILLA GARDENING has struck a ghost housing estate in Co Leitrim, with volunteers planting 1,000 trees there in the first salvo of a “Nama to Nature” campaign.

The Waterways ghost estate at Keshcarrigan, which is believed to be “in Nama”, was selected by a group of friends for the tree-planting treatment after it had been derelict for four years.

Organiser Serena Brabazon said yesterday the idea “came out of wanting to do something positive amid the rubble and the wasteland” left by the property crash.

Interviewed on RTÉ’s John Murray Show, she said the group had bought the saplings of native alder, ash, willow, hazel and silver birch for €285 and planted them on the estate last Sunday.

Gardaí who arrived on the scene “were very amenable, completely understood what we were doing”, she said, adding that their main concern was about health and safety issues on the estate.

Frank Armstrong, another member of the group, admitted they were “technically trespassing”. But he said it was about “empowering people [to adopt] community-based solutions”.

Ms Brabazon said she hoped the initiative would inspire communities throughout Ireland.

“Ireland has over 600 ghost estates and 40,000 empty dwellings. Rather than watch the Government dither and procrastinate, let’s help nature take them back,” said volunteer Andrew Legge.

On thejournal.ie, which reported the story, Prof Rob Kitchen of NUI Maynooth noted there were similar “guerrilla gardening” groups worldwide.

“The point of civil disobedience is to challenge notions of what constitutes public/private space and to actively intervene to positive effect,” he wrote.