Walkers asked to stick to the paths on Divis and Black Mountain to protect nature

Conservation charity National Trust is asking walkers to stick to the paths on Divis and the Black Mountain to prevent erosion and damage to wildlife.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 1:58 pm
Updated Friday, 26th March 2021, 1:59 pm
Walkers should stick to the path on Divis and Black Mountain

The Trust said 210,000 people visited the beauty spots in 2020, an increase of nearly 20% from the previous year, and it’s expected this number will continue to rise.

However, Craig Somerville, lead ranger at the Trust said this surge in popularity has brought challenges.

“We fully appreciate the benefits that spending time in nature can bring, so it’s wonderful to see so many people enjoying the outdoors this year. What people might not realise however, is that stepping off, and then continuing to walk off the path, is starting to erode the landscape at a rapid rate.

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“One of the most popular walking routes on Divis and the Black Mountain is the Summit Trail. Over recent years this upland path has seen a huge increase in footfall resulting in damage to the path surface, and path ‘creep’ causing erosion to the grass verge as people step off the path.”

He added that once vegetation is lost through erosion, soil and stone can quickly wash off the mountain.

“This general loss of habitat and degradation can affect heathland flora species such as heathers, mosses and flowering plants like potentilla and bog asphodel. It can also affect other rare mountain plants already at risk and living at the very edge of their range.”

In January 2021 the Trust was successful in securing £59,000 of funding from the DAERA Environment Fund to carry out conservation and access improvements to the Summit Trail.

Craig added: “If we can all play our part by looking after our paths, then we can ensure more people can enjoy them all the year round.