The Woodland Trust Northern Ireland has planted the very first trees in its new 98 hectare site, Glas-na-Bradan Wood.
The conservation charity announced it had bought the site in April this year with ambitions to plant 150,000 native trees on 60 hectares.
Following a public consultation period on everything from the name of the site to its access points, development of the new woodland can finally begin.
Marking the occasion, Ian McCurley, Director of Woodland Trust NI, said: “Northern Ireland remains one of the least wooded regions in Europe with just 8.7 per cent woodland cover compared to 13 per cent in the UK.
“Not enough trees have been planted in the past, but things can change and thanks to Halifax we can now start to create Glas-na-Bradan Wood.
“Within five years we will have a fantastic new woodland made up of 150,000 trees for people, nature and climate.”
Halifax has supported the creation of the new native woodland, and its staff will also give their time to plant 28,347 trees alongside the local community this year.
These first trees will form Halifax’s woodland within Glas-na-Bradan Wood and leave a lasting legacy for the local community, as well as helping to combat climate change in Northern Ireland.
Once they are planted, the trees’ benefits are effective immediately, as they draw carbon from the air and store it deep within their roots.
Jim McCooe, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Northern Ireland, added: “We are proud to partner with Woodland Trust Northern Ireland and are delighted that by the end of 2021 we will have planted over 28,000 trees at the Woodland Trust’s new site in the Belfast Hills.
“This partnership is part of our overall investment in creating a cleaner, greener UK – financing a green future together.
“In Northern Ireland we are delighted to support the creation of an area of woodland within Glas-na-Bradan Wood.”
Set within Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, Glas-na-Bradan Wood will become a vital green space for the local community and a haven for wildlife.
An ambitious five-year community planting scheme will realise the Woodland Trust’s dream of creating a 60 hectare woodland that will transform Greater Belfast’s skyline.
Mayor Billy Webb, MBE JP, said: “Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has pledged to plant one million trees in partnership with the relevant community and statutory bodies and I am delighted to plant one of the first trees in Glas-na-Bradan Wood, which will flourish into a beautiful woodland within the borough.”
Mr McCurley concluded: “There’s no better time to start planting trees. We want to rally the people of Northern Ireland to get behind tree planting and make a difference in the fight against climate change.”
The Woodland Trust has set up a series of planting events for the public and places are still available for those wanting to muck in.
n To find out more, go to woodlandtrust.org.uk/northern-ireland