Community urged to get involved with new Belfast Hills visitor site

The Woodland Trust has asked the community to get involved at a new woodland visitor site being developed at the Belfast Hills.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 11:16 am

The Woodland Trust conservation charity has taken ownership of 98 hectares adjacent to Cave Hill Country Park with plans to conserve and restore the site and open the woodland to the public for free.

It has been made possible thanks to £550,000 funding from Biffa Award, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund and funding of £50,000 from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

The new site borders Cave Hill Country Park and will link existing pathways through Divis and the Cave Hills. Cave Hill Country Park attracts more than 270,000 visitors every year.

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The new site borders Cave Hill Country Park and will link existing pathways through Divis and the Cave Hills. Picture credit: Whitenoise Studios.

The Woodland Trust says the location 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”.

Access to the public is currently not permitted but a car park is already in place off Upper Hightown Road.

A response to a Woodland Trust community consultation to be presented to Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors at a meeting on Monday evening has proposed the name Glas Na Braden Wood for the site which is the source of the Glas Na Braden River.

An officer’s report to councillors has also suggested that entrance signage and site maps should be installed at official access points, including from Cave Hill Country Park and new trails of various abilities should be installed alongside the upgrading of existing trails.

A viewpoint feature and seating areas should also be considered along with permanent orienteering courses of various lengths, it has been proposed.

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.”

Suggestions put forward by the Woodland Trust for a name include Glas na Braden as well as Bellevue Wood, Collinwood and Hazel Hill.

Volunteers will be asked to assist with the first of more than 150,000 native trees to be planted later this year,

According to the Woodland Trust, Northern Ireland currently has the lowest tree cover within Europe, with just eight per cent cover, of which four per cent are native trees and 0.04 per cent is ancient woodland.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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Click here to read Names sought for new Woodland Trust site in Belfast Hills

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