The National Lottery Heritage Fund  has announced funding of over £484,400 for a Woodland Trust project set to revitalise the Faughan Valley landscape, on the outskirts of Derry/Londonderry.

This boost will enable the conservation charity to deliver plans, over three years, for a massive £1.2 million project. It’s an undertaking which will benefit the valley’s communities, landowners, landscape and wildlife.

The Faughan Valley runs from the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains along the beautiful River Faughan to the outskirts of the city. Covering some 80 square miles, it has been identified as an area of strategic importance thanks to some precious natural features. The river and its tributaries have well-earned environmental designations1 in recognition of the huge variety of plants and animals. And pockets of precious ancient woodland – a habitat even rarer in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK2 – dot this famously scenic land.

The Woodland Trust will work with landowners and communities to create a ‘resilient wooded landscape’, with numerous benefits in the offing. The fundamental aim is to restore, bolster and connect the vulnerable fragments of ancient woodland3. New hedgerows, for example, will provide a continuous corridor for the valley’s wildlife, which includes the endangered red squirrel.

Improved access

It’s good news for people, too as new and improved access, including quaint bridges, will open up miles of stunning woodland and riverside walks. An imaginative education and activity programme will provide the chance for students and members of the public to get to grips with the natural heritage on their doorstep. There will be opportunities for volunteers, from surveying sites to checking out invasive species; volunteers will develop skills and confidence, with some skills rewarded through formal accreditation.


Dave Scott, the Woodland Trust’s Treescape Project Manager commented: “This is an unmissable opportunity for the Trust and for local people. By creating and protecting woodland, we’re helping to create a resilient wooded landscape that will stay strong when faced with ever increasing threats, such as flooding and tree disease.

“A robust landscape depends upon people. We want farmers to see the practical and financial benefits – the natural capital – that trees and woodland bring. We’ll also be working with schools in the hope that young people will grow up with a real love of nature. All in all, thanks to National Lottery players, the project means good news for wildlife and for the people who live in, work in, or visit the Faughan Valley.”

Ian McCurley, Director of Woodland Trust for Northern Ireland commented: “These are exciting times for The Woodland Trust and for Northern Ireland. This award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund has come at a crucial time, as woodland cover in Northern Ireland is the lowest in all of Europe at 8%, and our precious ancient woodland cover is 0.04%. Our vision is to protect, restore and connect ancient woodland for people, wildlife and the economy and this funding from the National Lottery will enable us to do just that for the Faughan Valley.

“We want to establish The Faughan Valley as the best example of woodland in Northern Ireland and support rural communities in the surrounding areas. There are over 150,000 people living in the Derry and Strabane District Council area, and the Faughan Valley is an exciting opportunity for local people to enjoy their rural surroundings and for tourists and day-trippers to discover this naturally beautiful outdoor space, as we link up 1000 acres of publically accessible woodlands in the Faughan Valley area.

“We continue to take action against climate change and tree planting in the Faughan Valley is one of the most effective, simple and cost effective solutions. Not only do the trees absorb CO2, but they also support wildlife, provide outdoor access and are a great way to get communities involved in looking after the environment.”

Paul Mullan, Director Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Nature is our oldest form of heritage but much of it is under threat. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, projects such as this are empowering people to take action for the future of nature.

“The Faughan Valley landscape is home to some incredible wildlife and habitats and is steeped in history. This funding will connect communities with the natural heritage on their doorstep and put them at the heart of helping it to survive and thrive.”


Notes to editors

1. The River Faughan and its tributaries are designated a Special Area of Conservation and Area of Special Scientific Interest.

2. Ancient woods are areas continuously wooded since at least 1600. Centuries-old, ancient woodland is one of our richest wildlife habitats, home to many vulnerable and rare species. This fragile and fragmented resource covers a mere 0.04% of the Northern Ireland landscape. By comparison, ancient woodland is thought to cover 2% of Britain.

3. Targets are:

  • To restore 60 hectares of damaged ancient woods. This includes the gradual thinning of non-native conifers and the removal of invasive species, such as laurel and rhododendron.
  • To plant 45 hectares of trees along riverbanks. This riparian planting will buffer and extend fragments of ancient woodland, while reducing the impacts of flooding.
  • To restore 3,000 metres of hedgerows, and plant 5,000 metres of new hedgerows.

Media enquiries

Please contact Glynis Watt at the Woodland Trust’s Bangor Office on 028 9127 5787; email

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

Follow @WoodlandTrust on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #FaughanValley

Here in Northern Ireland the Woodland Trust cares for 50 woods. These woods contain a mix of recently planted woodland, mature woodland and ancient woodland. The Trust has produced the first-ever comprehensive record of Northern Ireland’s ancient woodland; find out more at Northern Ireland Ancient Woodland Inventory.

National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund