Why are trees important?

Trees give us beautiful landscapes and help the planet breathe by turning carbon dioxide into clean, pure oxygen. They also:

  • Provide safe habitats for wildlife.
  • Help tackle climate change by storing carbon.
  • Create valuable green spaces that boost our health and wellbeing.
  • Stabilise soil and protect against wind damage.
  • Reduce surface water run-off and flooding.

So what’s the problem?

Northern Ireland is one of the least wooded regions in Europe with only 9% of woodland cover. Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council area has the lowest levels of tree cover in Northern Ireland. Many of the trees in Northern Ireland are imported from overseas because there are very few local tree nurseries in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, importing trees increases our carbon footprint and can introduce new pests and diseases to our already low numbers of trees in the area.

What we’re doing about it!

We launched the Lisburn and Castlereagh Journey to Sustainability in May 2022. A major element of this is The Big Tree Project, which will aim to address the significantly low amount of tree cover in the Lisburn Castlereagh area.

The Lisburn and Castlereagh Parks and Amenities Team has sown 75,000 native tree seeds to date and aims to produce a total of 250,000 native trees over the next 3 years. A significant number of trees produced will be planted within the beautiful parks and open spaces across the council area, but also in other unused areas too such as old closed landfill sites. The Parks and Amenities Team will also address supply chain issues by producing native trees that will be planted across Northern Ireland.

How you can help

There are many treemendous ways you can get involved!

  • Our Parks and Amenities Team has developed a native tree species nursery where you can help sow and maintain all of these new tree seedlings.
  • As a trained volunteer, you can help our teams remove invasive species from our woodland areas eg rhododendron and laurel. This will address biodiversity decline within fragmented habitats. It will also allow light to filter down onto the woodland floor and regenerate previous flora and fauna.
  • Finally we need people to help us identify and document ancient woodland within the Lisburn Castlereagh area so that it can be protected.  Ancient woodland takes hundreds of years to establish and is important for wildlife, soils, carbon capture and storage, recreation, health and wellbeing.

Upcoming events to look out for:

  • Tree identification walks
  • Biodiversity identification walks
  • National Tree Week 2022 events  (November)
  • Tree planting and maintenance workshops
  • Volunteer recruitment days
  • Ancient woodland identification workshops training in partnership with The Woodland Trust.

Get in touch

If you’d like to find out more about the project or to register your interest as a volunteer, email [email protected]