The Woodland Trust Northern Ireland has asked the public to name its new woodland in the Belfast Hills.

Set next to Cave Hill Country Park, the 98-hectare site will be developed over the next five years with open treed areas, hedgerows, upland wet heath and species rich grassland. The first of over 150,000 native trees will be planted later this year with hopes to open up the new woodland to the public for free as soon as the end of 2021. The new site in the Belfast Hills was purchased thanks to funding from Biffa Award, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, NIEA and private donations.

As this new woodland is a blank canvas, the Woodland Trust wants to encourage local residents to get involved and help them develop a destination that is fit for the purpose of its visitors. To do this, the charity is coordinating a community consultation. The consultation seeks input on types of events the public would like to get involved in, volunteering opportunities, access points and pathways, and even help to choose the name for the site. Find out more about the community consultation. 

Gregor Fulton, Senior Outreach Manager for the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland said:

“As part of our plans to launch our new site in the Belfast Hills we are running a community consultation. We really want the local community to get involved in their new woodland and we value the ideas and comments from our new neighbours and from everyone who wants to visit our new site.”

To get the conversation started, the Woodland Trust has already pre-selected a choice of names reflecting the geography, history and location of the new woodland including Bellevue Wood, Collinwood, Glas-na-bradan and Hazel Hill. Members of the public are invited to vote on their favourite or submit a wild card choice of their own.

The new site is in Collinward and borders Cave Hill Country Park, which attracts over 270,000 visitors every year from Belfast and the surrounding areas and will link existing pathways through Divis and the Belfast Hills. It will also be a vital piece of the jigsaw linking current Woodland Trust sites at Carnmoney Hill, Monkstown Wood and Throne Wood, providing free outdoor spaces for the local community in North Belfast, Newtownabbey, South Antrim and the greater Belfast area.

Northern Ireland currently has the lowest tree cover within Europe, with just 8% cover; of which 4% are native trees and 0.04% ancient woodland. The Woodland Trust aims to create new native woodland for wildlife, people and the climate. With the addition of the new site in the Belfast Hills, the Woodland Trust has created woodland in Northern Ireland on a landscape scale for a second consecutive year. In 2020, the woodland conservation charity created the single largest native woodland to date on 60 hectares at Aughrim Hill.

The consultation will run from 21 June to 16 July. To have your say, complete the survey

Notes to editors 

For media enquiries contact Glynis Watt on 07920245545 or glyniswatt@woodlandtrust.org.uk

About the Woodland Trust 

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.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares.

In Northern Ireland the Woodland Trust cares for 50 woods. These woods contain a mix of recently planted woodland, mature woodland and ancient woodland.

Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

About the new site in the Belfast Hills

The geographical position provides immense scope for The Woodland Trust to engage with a wide audience within the greater Belfast area. The total population in Northern Ireland is 1.8 million - those living within a 10-mile radius of the site represents 35% of the entire population.
The new site forms part of the rear section of the Cave Hill situated to the North of the Cave Hill Country Park and ‘Napoleons Nose’. The property sits approximately 6 miles North of Belfast and a short distance from Mallusk. Belfast Zoo is situated to the east with the main access point via the Hightown Road adjacent to St Enda’s Gaelic Athletics Club. An additional agricultural access is positioned off the Upper High Town Road. Access to the public is currently not permitted but a public car park is already in place off the Upper Hightown Road.

The site is 98ha grassland farm and includes 60 ha of plantable acid/ wet heath ideal for broadleaved woodland creation and 35ha of good quality grassland which includes key species (devils bit scabious) with opportunities for hedgerow planting.

The most recent report from Belfast Hills Partnership estimates visitor numbers in the Belfast Hills at 972,375 including 273,142 in Cave Hill County Park.

About Biffa Award

Since 1997, Biffa Award has awarded grants totalling more than £180 million to thousands of worthwhile community and environmental projects across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The programme administers money donated by Biffa Group Ltd through the Landfill Communities Fund. www.biffa-award.org

About Landfill Communities Fund

The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is an innovative tax credit scheme enabling operators (LOs) to contribute money to organisations enrolled with ENTRUST as Environmental Bodies (EBs). EBs use this funding for a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites. LOs are able to claim a credit (currently 4.2%) against their landfill tax liability for 90% of the contributions they make. Since its inception in 1996, over £1.6 billion has been spent on more than 56,000 projects across the UK. For further information please visit www.entrust.org.uk or see HMRC’s general guide to landfill tax.