The Woodland Trust is currently creating the single largest native woodland in Northern Ireland. Aughrim Hill, situated in the heartland of the Mourne mountains in County Down, will be transformed from a bare hillside with no tree cover to a habitat with over 110,000 native trees. In total the new woodland habitat will stretch to 60 hectares.

Native trees including Scots pine, birch and oak are being planted at Aughrim by hand. The benefit of this is twofold; one benefit is that natural woodlands can be recreated with species of trees being planted in groups together. And in a continued fight against climate change, planting by hand, instead of machines which would churn the earth, means that carbon remains stored in the ground.

The creation of this native woodland habitat is also crucial to our native wildlife; for example red squirrels favour Scots pine, to name just one species that is expected to thrive here. These new trees will provide wildlife corridors and havens for a small population of red squirrels which currently live in the adjacent Mourne Park.

The land at Aughrim, which is privately owned, has been leased in the short term by Woodland Trust Northern Ireland in order to carry out the planting. The project has been made possible thanks to a partnership between the Forestry Service, the Woodland Trust and Mournes Heritage Trust. There are also plans to implement paths for public access to Aughrim, a move which has been welcomed by the local community of Attical, Aughrim’s nearest village.

Michael Topping, outreach adviser for Woodland Trust Northern Ireland said:

“Our aim is to increase tree cover and create new woodland in Northern Ireland and this woodland at Aughrim is set to be our biggest to date. I am working with private landowners to plant the right trees, in the right places - we need more areas like this that we can plant on.”

Ian McCurley, director for Woodland Trust Northern Ireland said:

“Being able to create woodlands as large as Aughrim means more for nature, more for climate change, more for people. We have more work to do in Northern Ireland as we need to almost double our tree cover in our fight against climate change. We need to reach a level of planting 2000 hectares per annum by 2025 in order for Northern Ireland to become carbon neutral by 2050.”

More information on the work of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland can be found at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/northern-ireland

Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact:

Glynis Watt at the Woodland Trust’s Northern Ireland Office on 028 9127 5787 or glyniswatt@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Or the Woodland Trust Press Office on 01476 581121 or media@woodlandtrust.org.uk

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.

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