The beautiful and picturesque Faughan Valley is made up of a collection of enchanting ancient woods, including Brackfield, Killaloo and Oaks Wood.

What makes the Faughan Valley special?

Unlike the rest of the UK, only 0.04% of Northern Ireland features ancient woodland, meaning areas like the Faughan Valley are extremely scarce and therefore must be protected.

An Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI), the Faughan Valley is rich in flora and home to an abundance of rare and wonderful wildlife. These unique species rely on the ancient woodland here in order to survive. Otters, Atlantic salmon and lamprey swim in the Faughan River, while red squirrels and pine marten scurry in the trees overhead.

Trees woods and wildlife

Ancient woodland

Home to myth and legend, where folk tales began. It fuelled our ancestors and still houses thousands. Ancient woodland has grown and adapted with native wildlife, yet what remains only covers 2.5% of the UK.

Find out more about ancient woodland

Visit the Faughan Valley

We care for a number of important woodlands that make up the Faughan Valley, all free for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Why is restoring the Faughan Valley important?

As Northern Ireland has only 0.04% ancient woodland cover and one of the key ancient woodland sites is in the Faughan Valley, protecting and restoring this area is of crucial importance. 

We need to protect the ancient woodland found here in order to preserve such a rare habitat. We can do this by removing invasive species such as rhododendron and by buffering these species with native trees in between them. By planting around pockets of ancient woodland we create essential corridors to support wildlife such as the red squirrel and the pine marten. 

Only 0.04%
of Northern Ireland is made up of ancient woodland

What we're doing

Working with landowners

We are working closely with local landowners and farmers to buffer, restore and protect these small pockets of ancient woodland with tree planting, riparian planting and creating larger blocks of native woodland to build resilience for the future. Our MoreWoods scheme allows us to support landowners through funding, supplying saplings and offering advice. There are lots of mutual benefits for landowners planting trees including flood reduction and carbon offsetting. Find out more about the benefits of agroforestry.

Improving visitor experience

As well as restoring and protecting these ancient woods within the Faughan Valley, we also want to improve visitor experience and allow people to enjoy the area and all it has to offer. With investment from the National Lottery Heritage Fund we are working to link up and create new walking trails for visitors to explore the valley.

Encouraging volunteering

Our volunteers in the Faughan Valley are involved with anything from building leaky dams to planting and coppicing trees, river monitoring and surveying a whole array of wildlife from bats to butterflies. We also offer accredited training for our volunteers so they can learn new skills that will enable them to help conserve their local areas. Find out more about volunteering with us.

Supporting schools and communities 

Our Acorns to Oaks programme gives local schools and communities the opportunity to create woodland on their own ground by growing trees from seed to saplings that will be planted in the Faughan Valley. The project provides exciting new outdoor learning opportunities and has a real impact by helping transform local landscapes, making them more resilient for people and wildlife. The programme will run over three years and includes seed collecting sessions in Year 1 and tree planting sessions in Year 3.

We also have opportunities for schools to transform their grounds and create an outdoor classroom through our school grounds programme, which in turn will provide homes for wildlife and help fight climate change. Schools can also achieve the Green Tree School Award by taking part in this programme. Communities can also take part in a similar scheme.

The John Muir Award, a certified environmental award, may be combined with the Green Tree School Award and the Acorns to Oaks programme. 

For more information or to get involved, email BronaghGallagher@woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Faughan Valley: from fragments to thriving forests

My name is Dave Scott and I'm the Faughan Valley Project Manager.

We are in the Faughan Valley and it is one of the most important places for ancient woodland in the whole of Northern Ireland. With only 0.04% of the land cover of this country in ancient woodland, it is of prime importance and
that is why we have focused our attentions and our efforts here and thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players we have been given the investment to start an ambitious three-year programme which will be the catalyst for a long-term vision spanning the next 10 years.

It is thanks to this investment that we are going to improve visitor experience so more people can get out into our woods and also our conservation work where we're going to plant thousands of trees, restore ancient woodland and also bring the community along with us, to our Acorns to Oaks program and our volunteering opportunities as well.

Our project in the Faughan Valley is all
about bringing people together be it our partners like the Loughs Agency and NI Water who're involved in our riparian planting project which will see the river improved as a habitat but also the drinking water improved as cleaner water is entering our water systems, reducing costs at treatment works.

Also our communities being involved with things like the Acorn to Oaks program
where they're getting to understand the life cycle of a tree and how it fits into the wider landscape.

We are keen to work with everybody that has got a vested interest in the Faughan Valley and working with us towards a resilient landscape.

Through the Woodland Trust's core work of protecting, restoring and creating native woodlands we can't do any of this work without the local land owning community and that is why we've been working closely with farmers and hope to work with more in order to connect our woodlands.

All our woodlands in the Faughan Valley are very fragmented - small pockets of ancient woodland just hanging on but by connecting these with tree planting like riparian planting, buffers larger blocks and new woodland we can actually build up their resilience and actually make them more viable for the future. But it is this engagement with the landowners that really makes or breaks a project like this and we're really lucky in the Faughan Valley that the landowners are coming on board, they see the value of trees and farming businesses within their own businesses in terms of offsetting carbon as well so with thanks to them this project has made a great start and we hope in the next two years that we bring in more landowners and we can really increase woodland cover within the Faughan Valley.

Hi my name is Bronagh Gallager and I'm the Project Officer for the Woodland Trust in the Faughan Valley.

Today we are in Oaks Wood in the Faughan Valley and I'm just wanting to tell you a little bit about the community engagement programs the Woodland Trust are running in the area to get the local community involved in their local woodlands.

Through our engagement programmes, we are hoping to give the local community the opportunities to get involved in exciting projects that will allow them to meet like-minded people learn new skills and have a real impact on their local environment. Our Acorns to Oaks programme allows local schools and communities to grow their own trees from seeds. Those trees will then be planted out here in the Faughan Valley. So another of our programs in which you can get involved in is our skills grounds projects we will come to your skills grounds and work together to create natural areas in your skills grounds that will become outdoor learning classrooms and areas for wildlife as well. So schools and community groups can get involved in the John Muir award. This award allows participants the opportunity to discover a wild place, explore it, help to conserve it and share what they've learned. An added benefit of our programmes is that the resources can be used to help deliver elements of the national curriculum.

Now more than ever spending time outdoors has become a real priority for our mental and physical well-being so we've got an established group of volunteers here in the Faughan Valley that come out with us every month to get involved in different types of activities throughout the year. We do many things from building leaky dams that you can see behind us, to tree planting of course,
coppicing, river monitoring and surveying a whole array of wildlife from butterflies to bats. We also offer accredited training for our volunteers as they can learn new skills that will enable them to
help conserve their local areas. So our volunteers made this series of leaky dams behind us here. Now these leaky dams are slowing the flow of this stream, which means that the silt and pollution
coming from the road up above can settle down into the bed of this stream rather than flowing on down into the River Faughan, which is a really important river for salmon and other wildlife.

It is thanks to this investment from the Heritage Fund that the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland can really
focus our efforts in the Faughan Valley to combat climate change, to re-engage people with their landscapes and use trees and woods to build that resilience and also create havens for wildlife.

Your support matters

Thank you to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support of our work across The Faughan Valley. 

The Faughan Valley Project would be impossible to deliver without our partners Northern Ireland Water and Loughs Agency, our local volunteer team and the local schools and community groups. We're also getting support from the North West Red Squirrel Group, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland, British Trust for Ornithology NI and Rural Area Partnership in Derry.

We need your ongoing support to continue this vital work. If you would like to support our restoration in the Faughan Valley please contact laurathompson@woodlandtrust.org.uk.