Belfast Telegraph

Faughan Valley: chance to create a forest haven, but £50,000 is needed

BY LINDA STEWART

Northern Ireland's biggest forest creation scheme could become a reality – if the Woodland Trust is able to raise enough money to buy 53 acres of land in the Faughan Valley, near Londonderry.

If the charity is able to buy the land, close to three of its other properties, it could plant 40,000 native trees in addition to the 55,000 it has already planted.

The Woodland Trust has now issued a public appeal in a bid to raise at least £50,000 to buy the grassland, which stretches along the banks of the Faughan River.

The aim is to eventually create a new stretch of woodland and a continuous wildlife corridor in an area that supports red squirrels, otters, kingfishers and purple hairstreak butterflies – one of the rarest in Northern Ireland.

Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, said: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put the missing piece in to a large landscape jigsaw.

"To the south of the site lies the Trust's Killaloo Wood – an enchanting bluebell-carpeted oak wood that contains remnants of ancient woodland.

"To the north are Oaks Wood and our recently planted Burntollet Wood, which is the baby of the family.

"And part of the site actually adjoins the Northern Ireland Environment Agency's Ness Country Park, famous for its ancient woodland and wildlife."

Northern Ireland ranks badly as one of the least wooded regions in Europe, with only 7% woodland cover, compared to the European average of 44%.

The new pathways will link and offer access to almost 17km (10 miles) of woodland and riverside walks.

To donate towards the project, call 0845 293 5858 or visit the website at: www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/faughan

BACKGROUND

The land is found eight miles south-east of Londonderry. It sits directly between the Woodland Trust's Oaks Wood (planted in 2000) and the charity's Killaloo Wood (which contains remnants of ancient woodland). Nearby is Tamnymore Wood (part of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency's Ness Country Park) and the Woodland Trust's Burntollet Wood (planted in 2009/2010).

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