Environment

Outdoors: Tree planting scheme aids greening of the north

From left, Abby Connolly, Joshua Connolly, Oliver Smith and Max Friel from 1st Castlerock Scout group Picture: Michael Cooper
Andrea McKernon

MORE than 24,000 free trees are making their way to schools and community groups this month across the north. Keen as badger groups like 1st Castlerock Scouts are greening landscapes and tackling Northern Ireland's chronic lack of trees and woodland.

The region has just 8 per cent woodland cover, compared to in Britain where the figure is an average of 13 per cent, while in continental Europe it is an average of 44 per cent.

And it's not too late for would-be tree planters to play a part with schools and groups invited to apply for the free saplings for planting in March next year funded by Sainsbury's, Ikea Family, and Yorkshire Tea.

Gregor Fulton from the Woodland Trust said the plans to improve our woodland cover for the future was ambitious.

“There's no doubt that trees offer so much, from brightening landscapes – and minds – to helping clean the very air we breathe," he said. "We want to see a huge increase in tree numbers. In fact, we have ambitious plans to plant 64 million trees over the next 10 years – that's one for every person in the UK.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for schools, youth groups and community groups to get their hands dirty and make a lasting change to their school grounds or shared spaces.”

The tree packs come in different sizes and mix of species, ranging from 30 native trees for a small copse or short hedgerow, to 420 trees for an area equivalent to a large football pitch.

People can choose from a range of tree types – species that will flourish in wetlands, those that attract wildlife, tree types that give year-round colour or those that provide a bountiful wild harvest.

Find out more and apply online now at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/freetrees. Applications close at 4pm on January 6 2017.

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