Trees and woods have been high on the political agenda recently. Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA visited Drumlamph Wood. Just outside Maghera, Drumlamph is one of our rare and precious ancient woodlands, buffered by thousands of recently planted native trees.
During the visit we discussed the need to both reverse the decline in tree planting and to provide meaningful protection for ancient and long-established woodland through the new felling licence regime. The Minister has made a welcome call for a ‘united effort’ in order to increase Northern Ireland’s limited woodland cover, which stands at 6.5% compared to the European average of 44%. Her Department will be working with the Trust and other forestry organisations to promote the benefits of woods and trees to landowners.
First Minister Peter Robinson MLA has also met with the Trust as he planted the first of 60 oaks at Stormont Estate. The new oak grove planted on the Stormont Estate is part of our Jubilee Woods project: an ambitious tree-planting campaign to mark the Queen’s historic 2012 Diamond Jubilee.
We are delighted that the First Minister has taken the time to plant a tree to mark the Jubilee. Stormont’s new grove consists of 60 oaks, that’s one for each year of the Queen’s reign; and some of the saplings have been grown from acorns gathered from Sandringham Estate.
The Northern Ireland Executive’s is running a consultation on the draft Programme for Government and you can take part before February 22nd.
The Trust is calling for the Executive to revise the Programme for Government to include the following crucial commitments:
- An ambitious tree planting target of 1740 hectares per annum to deliver on the Executive’s pledge to double woodland cover,
- An increase in the incentives for tree planting,
- The meaningful protection of ancient and long-established woodland,
- Encouragement of the sensitive restoration of damaged ancient woodland sites, as this will help safeguard these valuable woods for future generations.
You can stay up-to-date on our work in Northern Ireland on our website.