The Woodland Trust Northern Ireland today has asked the public to name its new woodland in the Belfast Hills.

Picture credit: Whitenoise Studios

Set next to Cave Hill Country Park the 98 hectare site will be developed over the next five years with open treed areas, hedgerows, upland wet heath and species rich grassland; the first of over 150,000 native trees will be planted later this year with hopes to open up the new woodland to the public for free as soon as the end of 2021. The new site in the Belfast hills was purchased thanks to funding from Biffa Award, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, NIEA and private donations.

As this new woodland is a blank canvas, the Woodland Trust wants to encourage local residents to get involved and help them develop a destination that is fit for the purpose of its visitors – to do this the charity is co ordinating a community consultation. The consultation seeks input on types of events the public would like to get involved in, volunteering opportunities, access points and pathways, and even help to choose the name for the site. Details of this community consultation are available at http://www.woodlandtru.st/zIKcw

Gregor Fulton, Senior Outreach Manager for the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland said:

“As part of our plans to launch our new site in the Belfast Hills we are running a community consultation. We really want the local community to get involved in their new woodland and we value the ideas and comments from our new neighbours and from everyone who wants to visit our new site.”

To get the conversation started, the Woodland Trust has already pre-selected a choice of names reflecting the geography, history and location of the new woodland including Bellevue Wood, Collinwood, Glas-na-bradan and Hazel Hill. Members of the public are invited to vote on their favourite or submit a wild card choice of their own.

The new site is in Collinward and borders Cave Hill Country Park, which attracts over 270,000 visitors every year from Belfast and the surrounding areas and will link existing pathways through Divis and the Belfast Hills. It will also be a vital piece of the jigsaw linking current Woodland Trust sites at Carnmoney Hill, Monkstown Wood and Throne Wood, providing free outdoor spaces for the local community in North Belfast, Newtownabbey, South Antrim and the greater Belfast area.

Northern Ireland currently has the lowest tree cover within Europe, with just 8% cover; of which 4% are native trees and 0.04% ancient woodland. The Woodland Trust aims to create new native woodland for wildlife, people and the climate. With the addition of the new site in the Belfast Hills, the Woodland Trust has created woodland in Northern Ireland on a landscape scale for a second consecutive year. In 2020, the woodland conservation charity created the single largest native woodland to date on 60 hectares at Aughrim Hill.

The consultation will run from 21 June to 16 July, to have your say, you can complete the survey at http://www.woodlandtru.st/zIKcw