With a view to positively impacting Ireland’s natural heritage and bio- diversity, and to assist in expanding the country’s ancient woodlands, the iNUA Collection begins a new partnership with Irish Trees at Dunsany Nature Reserve.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in December of 2023.
As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainable practices, the first initiative will come from the iNUA Collection’s Tullamore Court Hotel, which has arranged to plant over 3,500 native Irish trees – including alder, birch, oak, willow, rowan, and Scots pine – over the next five years, through its partnership with Irish Trees at Dunsany. The initiative will be rolled out across the entire iNUA portfolio, which consists of four- and five-star hotels across the island of Ireland.
The first Irish project to be recognised by the European Rewilding Network and Ireland’s largest private rewilding project, Dunsany Nature Reserve, in County Meath, has 750 acres dedicated exclusively to rewilding. Naturalist and film-maker Randal Plunkett, 21st Baron of Dunsany, took the unorthodox gamble of deciding in 2014 to rewild his family’s demesne, creating a now-thriving 750- acre nature reserve.
A radical move, rewilding meant removing all grazing animals from the property, gearing towards restoring ecosystems to the point where nature can take care of itself, and creating a regenerating haven of native forests, fields, springs, streams and marshes.
This has led to increased biodiversity, including sightings of rare local bird species not recorded in the area for a long time, such as red kites, woodpeckers, barn owls, long-eared owls, herons and sparrow hawks, along with red deer, foxes, otters, badgers, pine martens, hares and stoats. Dunsany is now home to an abundance of flora, fauna and wildlife.
“Recognising our impact on the environment,” says Sean O’Driscoll, CEO of the iNUA Collection, “and as part of our commitment to sustainable practices, we are investing in nature and biodiversity as a hotel group. Our plans are initially to plant 3,500 native trees over the next five years, starting with Tullamore Court Hotel, planting trees in person at Dunsany Nature Reserve with many of our corporate clients, as well as with team members.
“This is the first step in creating our own iNUA Collection woodland, and we look forward to time spent planting a broad range of native Irish trees with our clients, colleagues and friends, to create wild, abundant and biodiverse habitats that will never be harvested on this 850- year-old estate. We’ll be able to visit our trees over the years to come and see our legacy grow, as we make a real investment into Ireland’s natural heritage. Tullamore Court Hotel is the first hotel to sign up for this initiative, and it is the first of many, as teams across the collection are keen to be involved.
“More and more corporate clients – who book meetings, conferences and events – are asking us about meaningful and quantifiable sustainability policies. In particular, we see this in our Midlands hotels – Tullamore and Athlone – where there is a huge drive towards energy-renewable investment projects. Clients are particularly conscious [about] their supply chain, and hotel services would come under this area.
“We are being asked, ‘What are we doing as a company to offset the environmental impact of delegates attending meetings and conferences?’ By selecting Irish Trees as our partner for this project, our vision and values had to align and, most importantly, where we, as a company – representing our stakeholders, staff and customers – could see a tangible benefit from this project.”
'Every Tree Counts'
“We are delighted to partner with the iNUA Collection to help expand and reconnect these ancient woodlands, and every tree counts,” says Bob Hamilton of Irish Trees.
“More trees mean cleaner air, cleaner water, and a habitat for insects, animals and birds. Each tree makes an impact, and it all makes a long-lasting difference.”