The Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland has celebrated a major milestone this year as its Woods On Your Doorstep turned 20.
The UK’s largest woodland conservation charity established woodland sites across all of Northern
Ireland in 2000 with a simple aim to develop woodlands within walking distance of local people in mainly urban areas.
The project bred new life into towns with the planting of woodlands stretching from the Faughan Valley in the North West to Corrog Wood on the Ards Peninsula.
Over 250,000 trees have been planted as part of Woods On Your Doorstep over the past 20 years at sites including Carnmoney Hill and Monkstown Wood in Newtownabbey, Drumnaph Nature Reserve in Maghera, Cabin Wood in Cookstown, Corrog Wood in Portaferry, Canal Wood in Poyntzpass, Glasswater Wood in Crossgar, Oaks Wood in the Faughan Valley and Friends of Belvoir in Belfast.
Over the past 20 years these woods have provided great natural spaces for families and hosted over 1,000 events, becoming a hub to bring people together.
Local communities have enjoyed playing, planting trees, running, walking, bird watching and more recently escaping the rigours of daily life and the pressures of the pandemic.
Woodland Trust woods have remained open and welcomed people in while Covid-19 has changed how we go about our daily lives and interact with each.
Northern Ireland has the lowest tree cover in Northern Ireland with only eight per cent compared to 38 per cent tree cover in Europe.
Species are in decline, habitats are fragmented and people are disconnected from nature.
Trees help clean air and water and they provide havens for wildlife and store carbon.
In 2020 alone the trees in Woods On Your Doorstep
have stored almost 95,000 tonnes of carbon, offsetting the carbon footprints of 17,000 people.
Woodland Trust Northern Ireland’s Director Ian McCurley said: “Trees are the most cost effective method of delivering and resolving the nature and climate crises, they also have a positive impact on people’s mental health and well-being.
“We are delighted to celebrate 20 years of Woods On Your Doorstep, especially as these woods have provided a haven for local communities during the pandemic.
“People have had time to think. They want to get outside and we want to bring them there.
“We are looking forward to the next chapter of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland.”
n Visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/northern-ireland to find out more about the work of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland.