The Shelton Abbey Pocket Forests native tree nursery was opened by Minister of State Pippa Hackett, on Tuesday 11 June.

The nursery is home to more than 2,000 native trees, which will be planted by communities working with award-winning social enterprise Pocket Forests.

The trees are being cared for by prisoners, under the expert guidance of a senior prison officer, at Shelton Abbey Open Prison outside Arklow, Co Wicklow.

The project, a collaboration between Pocket Forests, the Irish Prisons Service and Coillte is helping to create a positive role for prisoners in climate and biodiversity action.

The Shelton Abbey Pocket Forests native tree nursery is growing nine different indigenous tree species, all grown from Irish seed by Coillte.

The one-year-old saplings will spend the summer season in Shelton Abbey before being planted in community-created Pocket Forests next winter. Pocket Forests are an innovative way of bringing woodland to nature-deprived urban areas to combat nature and biodiversity loss.


Working with a group of prisoners and prison officer Declan Jordan, the Pocket Forest team planted 2,160 native trees in March 2024. The trees are being managed with nature-friendly methods, bark mulching for natural weed suppression and with compost made on-site by Declan, who has a background in tree nursery management and horticulture.

A total 240 of each of the following nine species were planted: Silver Birch (Betula pendula), Whitebeam (Sorbus aria), Common Birch (Betula pubescens), Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Hazel (Corylus avellana), Spindle Tree (Euonymus europaeus), Common Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris), White Thorn (Crataegus monogyna) and Rowan (Sorbus Aucuparia).

Minister Hackett said: “It’s a real privilege to be opening the Pocket Forests native tree nursery in Shelton Abbey. The benefits of urban greening are multiple, be it better air quality, much needed shading and cooling on hot summer days, or improved flood resilience.

"The care that the prisoners have put into establishing the nursery under the expert guidance of prison officer, Declan Jordan, is clear to see, and I want to congratulate Declan, the Shelton Abbey prisoners, the Pocket Forests team and Coillte on this wonderful initiative.”