The Woodland Trust has launched its manifesto A vision for woodland in Northern Ireland which calls for the absolute protection of ancient and long-established woodland, the restoration of ancient woodland previously damaged by the planting of non-native conifers, and the doubling of Northern Ireland’s woodland cover over the next 50 years.
Woodland in Northern Ireland: making change happen
In order to achieve our vision for woodland in Northern Ireland, the Trust will concentrate its effort on four vital issues:
- Protection for ancient woodland: Ancient woodland is one of our richest wildlife habitats, our equivalent of the rainforest, yet remains under threat from development. Today only 9,964 hectares of ancient and long-established woodland remain in the whole of Northern Ireland. The Woodland Trust is calling for the Northern Ireland Executive to afford absolute legislative protection to all sites identified on the Trust’s Ancient Woodland Inventory
- Felling licences: The Trust is calling for increased protection for all woodland through the re-introduction of felling licences. Northern Ireland remains the only country in the UK where felling licences are not employed to control the felling of woodland.
- Woodland expansion: The Woodland Trust welcomes the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s intention to double Northern Ireland’s woodland cover over the next 50 years, as outlined in the publication, Northern Ireland Forestry: a strategy for sustainability and growth. The Trust, however, wants to see a clear strategy for this expansion, including targets for the rate and location of new planting. In particular, there is a need for new woodland which buffers and protects our remaining fragments of ancient woodland, providing extended wildlife habitats.
- Access and recreation: New woodland creation should also be targeted where there is currently a lack of public access. Trees, woods and green spaces offer demonstrable health benefits, facilitating both physical and mental well-being.
Assembly debates woodland creation targets
Following the media launch of A vision for woodland in Northern Ireland, the country's limited woodland resource was in the spotlight thanks to a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly on the Executive’s headline woodland creation targets.