Red squirrels in the Glens of Antrim have won a lifeline with £25,000 awarded to bring much-needed woodland to the rugged mountains.
The spectacular area lacks tree cover, but a new project delivered by the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme, the Glens Red Squirrel Group and the Woodland Trust will create new native woodland.
With the help of farmers, landowners and community groups, the targets are to plant 10 hectares of 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 - local people will be able to claim up to four free saplings to plant in their garden this March.
The project is a ray of hope for the Glens' wildlife, not least the endangered red squirrel.
The creation of new habitats and sustainable food sources - including favourites such as Scots pine and hazel - will give a boost to this vulnerable species.
Gregor Fulton, operations manager with the Woodland Trust, said: "We have 1,000 garden trees up for grabs, up to four per household, including wild cherry, silver birch, crab apple and rowan. 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."
For further information or to apply for your free trees contact Laura at the Heart of the Glens Landscape Partnership Scheme on 028 2075 2100, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.heartof theglens.org.