Wildfire risk warning after trees damaged in Newtownabbey wood

Residents are being urged to report anti-social behaviour to the authorities following recent incidents in Monkstown Wood.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 1:31 pm

The appeal comes after a number of trees have been damaged and fires have been lit at the beauty spot.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Woodland Trust said: “The area in question is along the Three Mile Water River and is under the management of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. We work closely with the council to manage Monkstown Wood.

“We also work closely with Three Mile Water River Conservation and Angling Association, and without them - and our local Woodland Trust volunteers - we would not be able to maintain and conserve the site.

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Fires have been lit in the area. Pic contributed by Cllr Cooper.

“Our simple advice request for visitors to the site is when you visit our woods, please leave only your footprints. Take all litter and belongings home with you as left litter can accidentally cause fires. Please respect the natural environment, fires in woods are dangerous to human life and to wildlife.

“The banks of the river in Monkstown Wood are a pristine habitat and the long-established woodlands there provide a popular destination for local people to enjoy many different recreational activities. Woodland Trust wants to conserve Monkstown Wood and increase the volume of tree cover in Northern Ireland to provide habitats for wildlife and to help mitigate climate change.

“The Woodland Trust are on amber alert after the current volume of wildfires. We take very seriously any threat to human or local wildlife. Any fires such as these, take NIFRS away from potential domestic fires.”

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Council said: “The council was made aware of trees being damaged and fires lit at Monkstown Wood and officers have passed the information on to the Woodland Trust who own and manage the site.”

A number of trees have been damaged. Pic contributed by Cllr Cooper.

Meanwhile, police are to step up patrols in the area.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “Police have not received any reports of these incidents, however, officers have now been made aware of the matter and are conducting enquiries.

Increased patrols will be conducted in the area and officers would ask anyone witnessing anti-social behaviour to report it to police immediately and not to presume that someone else has reported it.”

Supporting this appeal, DUP Councillor Mark Cooper BEM said: “Whoever is doing this needs to stop, look at themselves and feel ashamed. You are destroying the loca wildlife and our environment.

“I encourage members of the public to contract the PSNI and the local authorities if they come across any anti-social behaviour in the Monkstown Wood.”

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Click here to read NIHE funding helps Monkstown Boxing Club support young people from Newtownabbey

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