The Glens of Antrim are set for a facelift thanks to funding of almost £25,000 from the NGO Challenge Fund.
A refreshing new project – delivered by the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme1, the Glens Red Squirrel Group and the Woodland Trust – aims to bring much-needed woodland to this beautifully rugged part of the country.
Local people are at the heart of the initiative. With the help of farmers, landowners and community groups, the targets are to plant 10 hectares (25 acres) of new native woodland, and to create and restore up to 2.5 miles of hedgerows. The new hedgerows will link pockets of existing woodland, providing corridors for some precious species of wildlife. There are 1,000 trees for gardens too: locals currently have the opportunity to claim up to four free saplings for planting in their garden this March.
The project brings a ray of hope for the Glens’ special wild inhabitants, not least the endangered red squirrel. The creation of vital new habitats and sustainable food sources – with favourites such as Scots pine and hazel included in the mix – will provide a boost to this vulnerable species.
Trees in gardens are important for wildlife too, with even the smallest of saplings attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
Gregor Fulton, operations manager with the Woodland Trust, enthused: “Although famously beautiful, the Glens of Antrim are extremely lacking when it comes to woodland. Thanks to funding from the Challenge Fund, we have a fantastic opportunity to work with experts from partner organisations. And with the help of local people – including community groups and landowners – we’ll be planting woodland and hedgerows where they’re needed most.
“People lucky enough to have a medium-sized garden can also play a part. We have 1,000 garden trees up for grabs: up to four per household, including wild cherry, silver birch, crab apple and rowan. And we’re keen to stress that the planting of even just one tree, in your own back garden, really can make a difference. You’ll not only enhance the beauty of your own home; you’ll provide a much-needed home for wildlife, with insects being quick to colonise and attracting other creatures higher up the food chain.”
Réamaí Mathers, from the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, added: “We are delighted to be working with the Glens Red Squirrel Group and the Woodland Trust. The Trust’s wealth of experience will go a long way in helping to recreate the famous woodland that once covered this part of Ulster. We’re keen to build upon this new partnership and explore the many benefits that trees and woodland bring, from enhancing the landscape to increasing agricultural productivity. This will be a win-win situation for landowners and wildlife.”