Belfast Telegraph

Reserve’s £180,000 makeover to ease flooding

By Linda Stewart

The Bog Meadows Nature Reserve is to undergo a major makeover that will protect surrounding areas from flooding.

The wetland restoration and flood alleviation works in the west Belfast nature reserve are part of a three-year £180,000 improvement scheme funded by Northern Ireland Environment Agency, DCAL and waste management supplier Biffaward.

Work is due to kick off on Monday, unlocking the potential of one of Belfast’s hidden wildlife treasures as a natural sink for preventing floods and delivering benefits to people and wildlife.

The 16-hectare site sandwiched between the M1 motorway and the Falls Road is all that remains of the once-vast floodplain of the River Blackstaff, which spread over 1,000 acres in days gone by. It attracts more than 60,000 visitors each year and is home to a wealth of wetland-loving animals.

In the coming months ponds and ditches will be deepened and widened to hold more water, while dams will be installed to stop ditches and fields drying out in the summer. A series of berms and bays will be created along the banks of the Ballymurphy Stream to increase its ability to carry water during times of flood.

Visitors will also benefit from upgrades to the existing path network and installation of new information panels which will form a nature trail.

Deborah McLaughlin, Ulster Wildlife Trust project officer at the Bog Meadows, said: “By breathing new life into this urban oasis and increasing its capacity to cope with more extreme weather conditions, we will see benefits for wildlife as their habitats are restored, benefits for the local community as they enjoy the rejuvenated wetland in our care, and benefits for greater Belfast in terms of flood alleviation.”

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