Thought to be the first initiative of its kind in Northern Ireland, the Life Tree project will see around 4,000 native tree saplings planted each year to cut air pollution and improve public health.
A Northern Ireland council is taking on the initiative in partnership with Public Health Agency (PHA) and the North West Regional College. Derry city and the Strabane District Council area will be covered as a part of the council’s wider air quality improvement strategy.
Registered families will be able to either plant a sapling in their home or, alternatively, have the council plant it in a local park or green area.
Mayor of Derry and Strabane Maolíosa McHugh said Life Tree is: “A poignant means of marking and remembering the registrations of birth, deaths and marriages in our city and district.”
He said it will also deliver multiple public health and environmental benefits.
“Planting trees can not only decrease air pollution but it improves both the urban and rural landscape and encourages the public to experience the outdoors and the associated health benefits so I am pleased that we are the first council in the north to introduce this scheme,” he added.
Air pollution has been a concern in the north west for a number of years and last month the Department of Environment was monitoring high pollution levels in the Londonderry area.
Brendan Bonner of the Public Health Agency said reducing local pollution levels was a key aim of the project: “Air pollution impacts on all regions, settings and age groups and while we all breath the same air, there are significant geographical differences to exposure to air pollution and it is important that we do all we can to improve and protect our air quality locally.”