Around 400 school pupils planted 1,000 broadleaf trees yesterday as part of Northern Ireland's largest ever public tree planting event.
Edwin Poots, Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, planted the first tree of the 'Forests For Our Future' programme in Co Tyrone.
The event at CAFRE's Loughry Campus near Cookstown was the first of a series to kick-start the initiative, which aims to plant 18 million trees by 2030 to help tackle climate change, improve community wellbeing, contribute to a sustainable economy and increase tourism.
Mr Poots, who donned his wellies to take part in the event, said: "Today we are investing in all our futures as around 400 pupils planted 1,000 young trees.
"These trees will grow, flourish and over their lifetime, will provide a multitude of benefits.
"I am confident this simple but effective step will reap great rewards for our environment, health, tourism and economy."
Mr Poots said planting 18 million trees will be "a huge challenge but a very important one" in terms of helping the environment.
Helping to plant the trees were Sarah Maguire and Caragh McCloskey from St Mary's Grammar, Magherafelt.
Sarah said: "We have a collective responsibility to protect the environment, that is our duty.
"Today our environment is under threat because of our deeds and decisions.
"Our actions have results."