Northern Ireland ‘leaf peepers’ to enjoy a colourful autumn

Northern Ireland is turning into a region of ‘leaf peepers’ - travelling to view and photograph autumn foliage, according to new research commissioned by the National Trust.

By Helen McGurk
Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 1:15 pm
The autumnal woodland around the lake at Mount Stewart
The autumnal woodland around the lake at Mount Stewart

A YouGov poll found that in Northern Ireland, 22 per cent of adults surveyed chose seeing autumn colour as their favourite aspect of autumn, followed by longer evenings and spending time in nature – running, walking or cycling.

Celia Richardson, director of communications and audience at the conservation charity said: “These findings show that people have a real love and appreciation of trees and of the natural sights of autumn – particularly enjoying how our trees change from the brilliant greens of summer to the vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and russet of the autumn colour palette.

“We can see that people are still saying they are closer to nature than they were before the pandemic began and we hope it’s here to stay. Connecting with nature is good for our health and wellbeing and makes people more likely to act to protect the natural world.

“So we have launched our autumn challenge - asking people to get outside and to get active this autumn – to raise money to plant more trees, with the aim of helping not just the health of the nation, but also the health of our planet.”

The Trust’s autumn virtual challenge - Move for trees – invites people to get active and cover 50km (31 miles) throughout the month of October. Every £5 raised will plant and establish one new sapling which could remove 1 tonne of CO2 from the air over its lifetime, to help people and nature thrive for generations to come.

Despite some signs of early autumn colour and leaf fall in early September - with much of the country experiencing an Indian summer, this could be a great year for autumn colour, according to National Trust experts.

Pamela Smith, national gardens and parks specialist at the conservation charity said: “Autumn colour is not only determined by what the actual weather is doing now, the weather patterns throughout the year are also key – particularly levels of sunshine, but also levels of rainfall, a lack of which can cause stress for trees which is why there have been early shows of yellow or brown autumn colour and leaf-fall in parts of the country.”

“Over the next two weeks we do need some more sunny days, more rain and colder temperatures - but staying above freezing – with no storms, to help boost what could be a really good year for autumn colour.”

*For more info on the autumn virtual challenge: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/move-for-trees