Agenda item

Deputation - To receive Mr D Scott and Ms B Gallagher, Woodland Trust to discuss the Faughan Valley Project

Minutes:

The Committee received Mr Scott and Ms Gallagher, Woodland Trust to the Meeting to discuss the Faughan Valley Project.  Mr Scott gave a power-point presentation highlighting the following:

 

Resilient Landscapes

 

Bigger, better, more and connected

 

The Faughan Valley

 

Project Aims:

 

-      Restore 60 ha of damaged ancient woods

-      Undertake 45 ha of riparian planting

-      Restore, extend and plant 8,000 metres of hedgerows

-      Undertake biological, species surveying and evidence collection, provide a wide-range of volunteer and accredited training opportunities

-      Develop infrastructure at key sties, enhancing the visitor welcome, extending access

-      Develop an enhanced schools offer, involving local schools in its co-design and co-production

 

How much Woodland is there?

 

Work in Partnership with Others

 

Trees and woods provide…

 

-      Ecosystem services – flood protection

-      Climate change mitigation

-      Wildlife

-      Recreation

-      Wood fuel

-      Heritage

-      Natural capital/infrastructure

 

Riparian Issues

 

River changing course – land loss

Risk of soil erosion and watercourse pollution

Field margins – erosion of banks

 

Trees and woods for people

 

Only 43% of children in NI are achieving the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations of 60 mins of exercise every day

Regular users of woods/forest for physical activity are approximately half the risk of poor mental health

 

Trees on Farms

 

-      Shade and shelter

-      Lamb mortality can be reduced compared to housed lambs – lower exposure to disease

-      Improve grass growth – windburn and drought

-      Outdoor lambing or early turnout and improved bonding

 

The Chairperson thanked Mr Scott for his presentation.  He expressed concern that Northern Ireland had only 8% of woodland in comparison with other countries.

 

Councillor Hastings, as Chairperson of the Faughan Valley Partnership, acknowledged the work carried out by the Woodland Trust and the organisation’s wealth of knowledge in terms of building woodlands.  He referred to the considerable time and effort which had been invested in replanting the woodlands around the Faughan Valley.

 

Councillor D Kelly welcomed the presentation which he felt was both enlightening and exciting.  He referred to the fact that this was World Mental Health Day and to the specific benefits to mental health of woodlands and the outdoors.  He said the lack of woodland in this area was a matter of concern but welcomed the scope of the project in terms of addressing this problem.  He anticipated that many benefits would be felt across the Council district especially in terms of dealing with floods.  He said it was interesting to note the impact that trees had on floods in terms of changing the watercourses and waterflows.  He believed that this should be of key interest to Council’s LDP team and anticipated Council working with the Trust to develop a co-ordinated approach based on their findings.  This could subsequently be incorporated into Council’s plans with a greater focus being placed on developing land in a manner which would assist tree growth and would not be detrimental to hedgerows. He welcomed the work carried out by the Woodland Trust to date and the aesthetic benefits thereof and, looked forward to further progress in this regard.

Councillor Tierney queried if the Woodland Trust perceived working with Council primarily through the Local Development Plan or were there other possible opportunities through which this work could continue.

 

Mr Scott felt the Woodland Trust could work with Council on a number of levels and had already been working with Council Officers on a number of initiatives He anticipated that opportunities would arise to provide a more focused approach in terms of the Faughan Valley and he said he would welcome an opportunity to work with Council Officers to determine if the Trust’s projects could be incorporated or delivered in conjunction with Council’s plans.

 

Mr Scott and Ms Gallagher were thanked again for the presentation and they withdrew from the Meeting.

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