Within the Ring of Gullion trees and small woods are significant landscape features and valuable wildlife habitats. In the farmed countryside small groups of trees in shelter belts or hedges provide beneficial shelter for stock and help to screen farm buildings. On the steep slopes of valleys and hillsides small semi-natural woodlands of hazel and ash with sycamore, oak, rowan and willow are notable features. Willow, birch and alder scrub is typical of cutover peatland in the valley bottoms. The most mature woods are those which have been planted in old estates notably at Killevy Castle, Hawthorn Hill and Forkhill.
Forestry covers about 6% of the area, is a major land use and is of mixed coniferous species – mainly sitka spruce, lodgepole pine, japanese larch and scots pine. The variety of species planted in irregular blocks with areas of unplanted hillside and pre-existing broad-leaved trees combine in many cases to produce attractive landscape features and pleasant areas for forest recreation.
Ancient woodland sites include Aughanduff, Carrive Grove and parts of the lands of Slieve Gullion Forest, Killeavy Castle and Fathom Forest. The Woodland Trust’s ‘Ancient Woodland Inventory’ records that of Forest Service’s 1403 hectares of land in the area, some 920 hectares are planted with a mixture of conifers and broadleaved trees.
Forest Service works to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard and replants at least 5% of felled areas with mixed species broadleaved trees and leaves 10-20% open space to promote biodiversity, new or replanted forests under this Standard comprise more than 75% of one species. It also manages unplanted areas for nature conservation with Forest Nature Reserves on Camlough Mountain and at Hawthorn Hill.
Located at Slieve Gullion, Slieve Gullion Forest Park is owned and managed by Forest Service and has a range of including Courtyard Centre and café, an 8 mile scenic drive, woodland trail, an ornamental walled garden and toilet facilities. There is also a waymarked trail, from the scenic.