Today the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland planted the very first trees in its new 98 hectare site, Glas-na-Bradan Wood.

The conservation charity announced it had bought the site in the Belfast Hills in April this year with ambitions to plant 150,000 native trees on 60 hectares. Following a public consultation period on everything from the name of the site to its access points, development of the new woodland can finally begin.

Marking the occasion, Ian McCurley, Director of Woodland Trust Northern Ireland said:

“Northern Ireland remains one of the least wooded regions in Europe with just 8.7% woodland cover, compared to 13% in the UK. Not enough trees have been planted in the past, but things can change and thanks to Halifax, we can now start to create Glas-na-Bradan Wood. Within five years, we will have a fantastic new woodland made up of 150,000 trees for people, nature and climate.”

Halifax has supported the creation of the new native woodland, and its staff will also give their time to plant 28,347 trees alongside the local community this year. These first trees will form Halifax’s woodland within Glas-na-Bradan Wood and leave a lasting legacy for the local community, as well as helping to combat climate change in Northern Ireland. Once they are planted, the trees’ benefits are effective immediately, as they draw carbon from the air and store it deep within their roots.

Jim McCooe, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for Northern Ireland, added:

"We are proud to partner with Woodland Trust Northern Ireland and are delighted that by the end of 2021 we will have planted over 28,000 trees at the Woodland Trust’s new site in the Belfast Hills. This partnership is part of our overall investment in creating a cleaner, greener UK - financing a green future together. In Northern Ireland, we are delighted to support the creation of an area of woodland within Glas-na-Bradan Wood.”

Northern Ireland has the lowest levels of accessible woodland in the UK: 59% of the population live within 4km of an accessible wood that is 20ha or greater. This compares to a UK average of 66.6%. Set within Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, Glas-na-Bradan Wood will become a vital green space for the local community and a haven for wildlife. An ambitious five-year community planting scheme will realise the Woodland Trust’s dream of creating a 60 hectare woodland that will transform Greater Belfast’s skyline.

Cllr Billy Webb, MBE JP, Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey commented:

“Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council has pledged to plant 1 million trees in partnership with the relevant community and statutory bodies and I am delighted to plant one of the first trees in Glas-na-Bradan Wood, which will flourish into a beautiful woodland within the Borough.”

Mr McCurley concluded:

“There’s no better time to start planting trees. We want to rally the people of Northern Ireland to get behind tree planting and make a difference in the fight against climate change. With the international community gathered for COP26, we can all play our part.”

The Woodland Trust has set up a series of planting events for the public and places are still available for those wanting to muck in! To find out more, go to woodlandtrust.org.uk/northern-ireland

Notes to editors

For media enquiries contact Glynis Watt on 07920245545 or glyniswatt@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 1,000 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.