Northern Ireland

Belfast tree coverage set to grow under new 10-year strategy

Belfast lord mayor Ryan Murphy plants a Hiroshima 'survivor' tree in Belfast's Botanic Gardens.
Belfast lord mayor Ryan Murphy plants a Hiroshima 'survivor' tree in Belfast's Botanic Gardens.

More native trees are to be planted across Belfast over the next decade while inspections on the health of trees across the city are to be increased.

The plans are part of the 10-year Belfast Tree Strategy, which was launched by the city’s lord mayor, Sinn Féin’s Ryan Murphy.

The strategy follows a public consultation process that saw more than 900 people engage with Belfast City Council and partner organisations.

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Increasing the number of trees in the city is a priority for the scheme, as more than 93 per cent of respondents during the consultation said there were too few in Belfast.

Last year saw anger among residents and environmental campaigners in the Stranmillis area of south Belfast as several mature trees were felled as part of a flood alleviation scheme.

As part of the new strategy, trees in parks will be see health and condition inspections every three years, rather than the current five years, while street trees will see inspections every two years.

A “detailed canopy cover assessment including woodlands and hedges” will take place, while plans also include tree-planting projects with community and volunteering opportunities.

To mark the launch, the lord mayor planted a tree in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens, grown from the seedling of a tree that survived the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

“We’ve listened carefully to people’s concerns and priorities,” Mr Murphy said.

“We’re going to introduce more native trees and green spaces into the city – and our city centre, through our Bolder Vision for Belfast.

“We also want to encourage volunteering and give more advice to people planting trees in their own gardens. Our new strategy reflects existing programmes such as Belfast One Million Trees, the Belfast Local Development Plan, the Belfast Agenda, and clearly links tree planting and management with our climate ambitions, as well as the health and well-being benefits that trees provide.”