Campaign to save Northern Ireland’s majestic trees

by | Oct 22, 2014 | Featured Slider, News

They’re the sentinels that have stood watch over our landscape while generations of humans have come and gone.

Now the Woodland Trust is calling on Environment Minister Mark H Durkan to safeguard the most treasured of our veteran trees.

The magnificent Dark Hedges at Stranocum and a more modest mulberry in Bangor are among the trees highlighted in the Woodland Trust’s Very Important Trees campaign.

The trust has joined forces with Country Living magazine in calling for politicians to back a national register of the country’s most beloved trees.

Forty magnificent specimens, including the Dark Hedges, the oaks of Boom Hall and the Crom Yews of Fermanagh, have been listed in a bid to identify and safeguard these living monuments.

Jill Butler, ancient tree specialist for the Woodland Trust, says: “Northern Ireland has its share of ancient and culturally important trees, with over 5,000 registered on the trust’s Ancient Tree Hunt website. And I’m quite certain that, just like elsewhere in the UK, there are many more that we simply don’t know of.

“Our oldest trees have seen centuries come and go, witnessed historic events and are home to many species of wildlife, some rare and vulnerable. These natural living monuments are the equivalent of listed buildings, yet have no automatic form of protection.

“A national register in each country of the UK would locate and list these trees, and help owners recognise their importance. It would be an important step in securing their future. The hope is that developers would consult the register when preparing planning applications.”

The 40 revered trees – handpicked because of their age, landscape value or historical association – are just a sample representing thousands of gems throughout the UK.

Northern Ireland’s arboreal representatives include the Dark Hedges, a spectacular avenue of beech trees near Ballymoney, which featured in TV series Game of Thrones; the famous Crom Yews of Fermanagh; oaks at Boom Hall Estate in Londonderry; and one elegant mulberry at Castle Park in Bangor.

The trust has also highlighted the magnificent oaks at Belvoir Park Forest in Belfast. One oak – gnarled, hollow and alive with insects and fungi – is more than 500 years old and is thought to be Northern Ireland’s oldest tree.

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