The Princess Royal backs WW1 wood memorial plans

Princess Anne
Princess Anne

The Princess Royal has helped launch plans for a new wood in Northern Ireland to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

The memorial will stand as a living reminder of those who fought during the 1914-1918 conflict.

It will occupy 53 acres in the Faughan Valley in Co Londonderry in the west of the region.

Patrick Clegg, director of the Woodland Trust in Northern Ireland, said: “This new wood will be a living, lasting tribute to the people from the island of Ireland who fought or supported others during the war.”

Anne arrived in Northern Ireland earlier today to begin a two-day visit. She was given an overview of the Trust’s plans to mark the Great War and the development of the Londonderry site.

She met around 80 guests including Trust volunteers and potential donors to the site, unveiled a plaque marking the launch of the project and was presented with a small wood carving.

It will be one of four centenary woods planted by the Trust in each of the UK’s countries. Each will be open to everyone for quiet reflection and trees can be dedicated to individuals, families and organisations. Members of the public will be encouraged to plant as an act of remembrance.

Mr Clegg said the Trust aimed to grow up to 40,000 native trees and create carpets of wild flowers, including poppies.

The River Faughan flows alongside while fragments of ancient woodland dot the banks. Species include endangered red squirrels, otters, kingfishers and purple hairstreak butterflies.

The director added: “Our goal is to create a new stretch of glorious woodland, which will link the nearby woods and form a continuous wildlife corridor.”