Plans for a Centenary Wood for Northern Ireland have been unveiled by the Woodland Trust, with a helping hand from HRH The Princess Royal during a two-day visit to the Province.
With The Princess Royal as Patron, the Trust’s Centenary Woods project will see four flagship woods created throughout the UK to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
Land in the heart of the beautiful Faughan Valley in County Londonderry will be Northern Ireland’s jewel in the crown. The 53-acre site – currently grassland with one pocket of precious ancient woodland – stretches alongside the River Faughan, just off the Glenshane Road.
This news follows the launch of England’s Centenary Wood – land near Epsom in Surrey; and it is expected that the Scottish and Welsh woods will be announced next month. In total, the project will see well over three million native trees planted across the UK, representing the millions of lives lost and affected by the war.
Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to announce plans for Northern Ireland’s Centenary Wood and are grateful that The Princess Royal has taken the time to visit this beautiful site.
“Here, we aim to plant up to 40,000 native trees and create carpets of wildflowers, including iconic poppies. And we hope that a special memorial area, possibly by the banks of the stunning River Faughan, will provide a place for quiet reflection.
“This new wood will be a living, lasting tribute to the people from the island of Ireland who fought or supported others during the war.”
The project offers a ray of hope for wildlife too.
Patrick continues: “This site has an absolutely ideal location. We have the renowned River Faughan running alongside us; while a number of woods, including fragments of ancient woodland, dot the nearby banks of the river. Species here include endangered red squirrels, otters, kingfishers and purple hairstreak butterflies. Our goal is to create a new stretch of glorious woodland, which will link the nearby woods and form a continuous wildlife corridor.”
Members of the public will have a chance to offer ideas and find out more at a public consultation meeting this summer. While schools, youth groups and community groups can take part in the overall project by availing of free trees.
The Woodland Trust is appealing for support to make its vision a reality. To help transform this land into Northern Ireland’s Centenary Wood please visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/fwwglenshane
The site’s purchase has been assisted by Northern Ireland Environment Agency, a number of charitable trusts and foundations1, and the generosity of individual donors. Sainsbury’s will be partnering the Woodland Trust to deliver the Centenary Woods project.