Belfast Telegraph

Ardcarn youths go wild for the environment

Members of Ardcarn Youth Club in east Belfast swapped the city for the rural idyll of Crawfordsburn on an environmental trip recently.

Members of Ardcarn Youth Club Margaret Coates and Daryl Ayre are joined by Pete Sloan (back) and (l-r) Adrian Woodley, Ulster Wildlife Trust, and Andy Bate to assemble bat boxes as part of the Scoutlink i-Citizen project in Crawfordsburn Country Park

The youngsters built bat boxes, went on nature trails and enjoyed a wildlife presentation from the Ulster Wildlife Trust during their time at the Northern Ireland Scout Centre.

The trip was thanks to a partnership between Translink, the Ulster Wildlife Trust and Scoutlink’s ‘i-Citizen’ project to develop young people’s awareness of local environmental issues.

Translink environmental officer Andy Bate said: “An important part of our Environmental Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plan is to educate people on the importance of respecting and looking after the bus and train network which provides habitats — grassland, woodland, brownfield and coastal — for a wide range of species.

“Structures from tunnels, bridges and sea defences to offices, depots and garages have the potential to provide roosting, nesting and access opportunities for a number of species that need to be accommodated and managed.

“We have also installed bird boxes at many stations and engage with schools and community groups to plant biodiversity gardens or undertake beach cleans.

“We are pleased to support this youth initiative that provides another excellent platform to show young people just how enjoyable it can be to look after the environment and respect the local bus and train network.

“We hope this opportunity to engage with local wildlife will lay important foundations for a more sustainable lifestyle as they grow older.”

Scoutlink youth development worker Pete Sloan said: “The environmental project is the culmination of a five month cross-community citizenship programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the Peace III programme, administered by Belfast City Council.

“Young people have taken part in a progressive programme of activities that has built relations between the two groups and challenged their opinions on good relations and civic engagement.”

Ulster Wildlife Trust nature conservation manager Ciaran Mullan said: “We were delighted to be involved in the delivery of this event, improving the environmental education of young people and raising awareness and understanding of the importance of biodiversity, a vital objective of the Action Plan.”

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