Council secures £300,000 from the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland to enhance local sustainability

May 27, 2022

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council is proud to have secured £300,000 from the Woodland Trust Emergency Tree Fund.

The council will establish a sustainable native tree nursery and develop community outreach initiatives to include accredited training and the environmental enhancement of local areas.  It also expects to use the nursery to develop its staff and apprenticeship skills in horticulture and woodland management.

The trees will be grown from seed and once established will contribute to planting efforts within the ‘Lagan Towpath Green Corridor’ project. The River Lagan forms the spine of this wonderful project from the Union Locks to McIlroy Park.  It will connect 16 fragmented habitats and several socially deprived communities offering a thriving, diverse and valued riverside heritage encouraging exploration and enjoyment of nature and wildlife.

The Mayor, Alderman Stephen Martin commented: “It is fantastic to have secured this money to enhance our communities. As part of its sustainability agenda the council wants to increase the level of tree cover across its area. We intend to embark on several major tree planting projects that will help with flood risk and countless smaller projects across all parts of Lisburn Castlereagh.”

Councillor Sharon Skillen, Leisure & Community Development Chair, speaking about the project said: “Through growing locally sourced trees we can help combat climate change twofold. When planted these trees will create a varied, attractive landscape across Lisburn Castlereagh.  They will provide wildlife habitats and enhance our biodiversity offering.

“We will work with local community groups and schools to plant the trees.  Together we will establish educational walking routes to help improve health and wellbeing across communities. We aim to propagate 75,000 native trees in 2022 and increase this to 150,000 per annum by 2024. Our talented Parks & Amenities team is successful in growing bedding plants in a nursery so the diversification to native trees is a natural step for us.”

Once established the council will seek to secure Green Flag status for parts of Lagan Valley Regional Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty enjoyed by thousands each year.

Paul Armstrong, Public Affairs Manager for the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland said: “The Woodland Trust is delighted to have supported Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council to establish a native tree nursery. Northern Ireland is one of the least wooded regions in Europe with just under 9% woodland cover. As trees play a key role in addressing the nature and climate emergencies, it is vital that we plant more trees, and to do this we need a sustainable supply of locally sourced and grown trees. Importing trees can inadvertently introduce new pests and diseases that can have a devastating impact on our existing trees and woods. Planting locally sourced and grown trees is the most effective way to mitigate against this, whilst supporting green jobs.”

A Woodland Support Steering Group will be led by the council involving key stakeholders such as the Woodland Trust, The Belfast Hills Partnership, NI Forest Schools Association and Lagan Valley Regional Park.

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council will seek to gain UKISG accreditation to ensure the trees it grows are to a high biosecurity standard.

In addition to this ‘looking to the future’ project the council’s Parks & Amenities team has commenced work to help those affected by fuel poverty in the Lisburn Castlereagh area. As part of its routine tree maintenance the council will cut logs into suitable sizes for fireplaces in half ton sacks to be distributed by local foodbanks, churches or community groups.  This will see the completion of the circular economy from tree planting to potential fuel source.