Meet the people behind our work: Friends of Belvoir Wood
Hands-on graft. Tree planting and care. Involving the local community. It's all in a day's work for site manager Stephen Duggan. Here he shows us some of the challenges of looking after a working forest and an urban wood, and some of the rewards this brings too.
Video length: 00:02:08
I've always had an interest in nature since a young age, particularly trees and woodlands. The woodlands and green spaces within towns and cities are vital, and they're so important as they clean the air that we breathe and they give a place for the public, including kids, to go and walk their dogs and to spend time and to play and to really learn about nature and to experience it first hand.
Friends of Belvoir Wood. It's a woodland, a mixed woodland. It's an urban woodland as well which makes it unique, and the other unique thing about Beaver Wood is that it's a working forest within a city and town environment which is very, very scarce now in the UK.
In Northern Ireland we only have about 8% woodland cover left, so we're one of the least-wooded European countries in Europe and if that disappears, it's going to be catastrophic for the wildlife that uses it as a habitat. One single oak tree standing by itself can contain over 500 different species.
So my job as site manager for Belvoir Wood is a very varied role. It's a very hands-on role, and that's something I do enjoy. I love getting the opportunity to get out and work in the wood myself, whether it's removing litter, removing branches from the pathways and whether it's planting new trees for the future generations.
We are now currently installing a charter pole on the site and that is a visual representation of the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People, so when the general public get together they share their stories with trees.
I have over 50 woodlands to manage, and having volunteers that are on the site regularly reporting back to myself, it's such a really great help, but we also see it as an opportunity to try and engage with the local community, with the local schools and the young people in the area and also to try and build a really strong relationship to take the wood forward and have it as a special place within the city of Belfast.