Belfast Telegraph

Levy on carrier bags will help improve access for woodlands

More people will access one of Northern Ireland's last ancient woodlands thanks to the levy on carrier bags.

Drumlamph Wood near Maghera in Co Londonderry dates back to 1599. It has a close canopy of hazel and holly trees interspersed with old oaks.

Work on the 17-hectare plot will include construction of a board walk through a wet area, seating and the creation of a way marked trail. The intention is that it will be visited by local schools and children pond dipping.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today announced an additional £125,600 to protect landscape, habitats and species.

Woodland Trust Northern Ireland director Patrick Cregg said: "We need to make sure that woodlands are available to people to enjoy all of the benefits that accrue through visiting woodland.

"We are sparse in terms of woodland, at 8% in Northern Ireland, in Great Britain it is around 12% and with some of our European neighbours it is up to 44% woodland cover."

Drumlamph is one of Northern Ireland's last remaining irreplaceable ancient woodlands - that is land continuously wooded since at least 1600.

It is being overhauled using money from the Natural Environment Fund.

Ten not for profit organisations and councils will share a slice of the money for varied projects ranging from raptor studies for birds of prey to wildfire initiatives.

This is in addition to £1.25 million funding already allocated to this fund last year from carrier bag receipts.

There was a time when the forests of Killetra and Glenconkeyne - stretching from Lough Neagh to Coleraine and from the Sperrins to the River Bann - were as large as the New Forest in Hampshire.

Now only fragments remain, including Drumlamph Wood just north west of Maghera.

The wood has been dated back to 1599 and escaped subsequent demand for timber for ships and for house building round the walled city of Derry.

Mr Durkan said: "This funding will go directly to projects that protect and improve the environment that we and future generations live in. It will promote health and well-being so that we can all enjoy the full value of our environment."

The Mourne Heritage Trust has already received £149,000 from the Natural Environment Fund.

Chief executive Martin Carey said they conducted controlled burns to help make the landscape more resilient to wildfires.

"To complement this, we were able to pilot a range of approaches to restoring to favourable condition parts of the upland heath habitat from which the high Mournes takes its European conservation designation and to propagate the genetically distinct and endangered Mourne juniper plant."


From Belfast Telegraph