A new native woodland is planned for Northern Ireland in a move that will conserve the land in the Belfast Hills and restore important wildlife habitats.
Conservation charity The Woodland Trust has acquired 98 hectares of land next to Cave Hill Country Park in Belfast, with plans to conserve and restore the site.
Two thirds of the land is suitable for native woodland, the rest is species rich grassland which supports a wide range of important plants.
Northern Ireland currently has the lowest tree cover within Europe, with just 8% cover, of which 4% are native trees and 0.04% is ancient woodland. The Woodland Trust aims to create new native woodland for wildlife, people and the climate, with plans to open the woodland to the public for free, once works are completed on site.
The new site borders Cave Hill Country Park, which attracts over 270,000 visitors every year from Belfast and the surrounding areas and will link existing pathways through Divis and the Belfast Hills.
It will also be a vital piece of the jigsaw linking current Woodland Trust sites at Carnmoney Hill, Monkstown Wood and Throne Wood, providing free outdoor spaces for the local community in North Belfast, Newtownabbey, South Antrim and the greater Belfast area.
The news comes after the charity committed to planting 50 million more trees in the UK by 2025 to help tackle climate change.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.