Over 220,000 new trees to be planted in Carrickfergus

More than 220,000 trees are to be planted in Carrickfergus through an ambitious afforestation project.
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A report to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council says land at Woodburn Forest has been leased to the Woodland Trust to plant out 140 hectares and manage the site for 20 years.

Through the project, 1,600 trees will be planted per hectare, which would see 224,000 trees planted overall.

The report to councillors states: “The afforestation of 140 hectares at Woodburn would contribute massively to the increase of tree cover within the borough.”

Tree planting. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough CouncilTree planting. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
Tree planting. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

The council is midway through a ‘Climate Canopy’ project funded by the Woodland Trust to increase tree cover across Mid and East Antrim. This includes 14 hectares at Carnfunnock Country Park outside Larne. The project has received funding of almost £300k from the Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund.

In its response to an environmental impact assessment consultation regarding Woodburn Forest, the council has described the proposed afforestation as a “meaningful strategy for addressing the environmental challenges currently faced”.

The consultation is being carried out by the Forest Service, an agency of DAERA (Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs). The Forest Service is seeking to determine the potential environmental impact of such an afforestation project.

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Through the project,1,600 trees will be planted per hectare. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough CouncilThrough the project,1,600 trees will be planted per hectare. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
Through the project,1,600 trees will be planted per hectare. Pic: Mid and East Antrim Borough Council

The council says the “proposed increase in woodland creation will help to mitigate climate change by absorbing CO2, thereby contributing the UK’s net zero emissions target, further the biodiversity of the borough, enhance the resilience of the landscape to extreme weather events and protect water quality and soil health and help to achieve tree planting targets committed to in the ‘Climate Canopy’ project”.

Speaking at last week’s council meeting, Knockagh DUP Councillor Peter Johnston proposed the local authority seeks a full update as the programme progresses.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter