Tree-mendous effort by all to mark the beginning of National Tree Week!

Tuesday 6 December 2022

To mark the beginning of National Tree Week, the Mayor joined pupils from Woodburn Primary School, Carrickfergus, at a tree planting event at the Keeran Moss restoration site.

Andrew Gallagher RSPB; Gareth Bareham RSPB; staff and pupils from Woodburn PS; Marlene Gattineau and Vanessa Postle MEA Council Parks and Open Spaces.

National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration and takes place from 26 November – 4 December. 

This marks the start of the winter tree planting season (November to March each year).

As part of the initiative, people are encouraged to come together to celebrate and plant trees.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was delighted to secure NIEA Environment funding in 2021 to begin restoration works at the Keeran Moss site. RSBP NI are currently working on phase two of the restoration.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said: “Tree Week marks the beginning of the tree planting season which runs right through to March. I encourage citizens to celebrate trees by getting involved in local tree planting initiatives, or simply get outdoors and enjoy the tremendous trees we already have in the parks & open spaces right across Mid and East Antrim.

“Residents can also consider planting their own tree. We are keen to hear from landowners, community groups, and schools - if you have space for trees on your land, please get in touch to discuss options. If you have a site in mind and some willing volunteers, we may be able to work together to plant more trees.”

Gareth Bareham, Conservation Adviser for the RSPB Northern Ireland Countryside and Land Management Services, are working in partnership with MEABC to restore the Keeran Moss site and commented: “Keeran Moss is primarily an old peatland site, historically cut over for fuel but now abandoned.  However, these sites are now recognised as very important for their contribution to climate change by storing large amounts of carbon in the remaining peat and for the fantastic range of wildlife they contain. Important habitats also include bog pools, traditional old pasture-type grassland and areas of scrub and trees. The restoration project aims to restore and enhance many of these wildlife features such as the pools, unique bog plants, pasture and trees - which in turn provide homes for species such as snipe and willow warblers, newts, common lizards and butterflies.

“We are keen to see this site being used by the local community. We hope it will flourish and provide a valuable biodiversity resource for residents and local wildlife for many years to come. A range of suitable, locally sourced native tree species have been planted, including Irish oak, rowan, and birch.”

Principal Rea from Woodburn Primary School added, “Woodburn Primary School won the Best School Gardening Project last year and availed of the free compost for schools' initiative.  The school is keen to have the opportunity to connect with nature through hands-on projects and learn about ecology and sustainability.”

NIEA Environment Fund client officer Eimear Reeve said “Since 2021 the NIEA Environment Fund has supported Mid & East Antrim Borough Council with grant aid of £161,000 to undertake habitat restoration at Keeran Moss. This investment support has enabled MEABC to work in partnership with the RSPB to restore the biodiversity and hydrology of the site.   As a result, the site will - in years to come - be bursting with biodiversities such as dragonflies, breeding birds, newts and flowering purple heather, which can be enjoyed and explored by the local community.  There will also be a decrease in carbon emissions from the restored peatland and tree planting, which will play an important role in addressing climate change, and will contribute to NI meeting its climate change targets.”

On Thursday 1 December pupils from Roddensvale in Larne also planted trees to begin a new Community Orchard in Larne Town Park - in collaboration with Larne Area Community Support Group. Councillor Donnelly, a teacher at the school, explained:  “At Roddensvale we ensure our pupils learn about the environment and how to play their part in combating climate change. Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines. Like great carbon sinks, woods and forests absorb atmospheric carbon and lock it up for centuries through photosynthesis.

“Trees are good for people and the environment. They improve air quality by producing oxygen, storing carbon, moderating the effects of sun and wind, and cleaning the air by trapping dust, pollen and other pollutants. Trees provide food and shelter for wildlife such as birds, squirrels and invertebrates, as well as for people. We believe in taking a hands-on approach and leading by example.”

Lynsey Poole from Larne Area Community Support Group, explained, “We have been delighted to work alongside Council, Cllr Maeve Donnelly, Gary Bissett from Inver Garden Centre and very enthusiastic pupils from Roddensvale School to create Larne’s very first Community Orchard. We are grateful as a group to have been given this opportunity to further support the local community and open spaces by creating this wonderful place to grow and learn together. We hope to have a variety of apple trees, alongside some berry bushes to be with and more to follow in the future. This will in turn support our successful and award-winning Larne Community Fridge and IncrEDIBLE Garden Project located at Larne Promenade.”

Pupils from Silverstream Primary School will also be taking part in a tree event at Greenisland Community Orchard – where they will mulch the young fruit trees, providing food and protection for them, which will help them grow and produce more fruit.

For further information, please contact Vanessa Postle: E: