NORTHERN IREW=LAND'S Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots, recently visited a large new woodland creation project near Stranocum in North Antrim, which is funded by almost £450,000 from his department.

The 50 hectare site is the largest scheme to benefit from NI's Forest Expansion Scheme to date, receiving approximately £445,000 over 10 years to create a woodland comprising 75% commercial conifers and 25% broadleaves.

As well as delivering significant carbon capture benefits, the woodland will provide potential for tourism development, income from timber production, while conserving and enhancing local biodiversity and the landscape.

Minister Poots said: “It was a pleasure to meet with Mr and Mrs McConaghy to see how they moved their business from a long established dairy farm towards a significant woodland holding and the contribution this makes at this early stage in taking forward the Forests for Our Future programme. The 50 hectare site is the largest scheme to benefit from the Forest Expansion Scheme to date and I am delighted that my department was able to contribute £445,000 over 10 years.

“Woodland creation is a simple low cost option to remove carbon from the atmosphere to help meet the UK’s Net Zero Carbon target by 2050. My department is leading in the development of the Executive’s ‘Green Growth’ strategy, and ‘Forests for our Future’ will be one of its foundation programmes – so far, we’ve planted around 670,000 trees.

“This woodland will provide economic benefits to the farm, enhance the biodiversity of the local area and provide society with benefits derived through carbon capture, estimated to be around 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent captured over the next 40 years.”

Scottish Woodlands' senior forestry officer, Brian Malcomson, said: “Scottish Woodlands Ltd have worked closely with David and Hazel McConaghy from the initial design concept through to planting to ensure that the woodland meets their objectives. Woodland can be a great land-use option.”