Posted 7th Jun 2018 by Peter Byrne
A Woodland Trust project aiming to revitalise the Faughan Valley landscape, on the outskirts of Derry / Londonderry, has received funding of over £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
This will allow the charity to start the first phase of the project, which will see the building of plans over the next 18 months, as part of a massive £1 million project. This is an undertaking that will ultimately benefit the valley's communities, landowners, landscape and wildlife.
Running from the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains along the beautiful River Faughan to the outskirts of the city, the Faughan Valley covers some 80 square miles. It has been viewed as an area of strategic importance due to the precious natural features.
The river and its tributaries have well-earned environmental designations in recognition of the huge variety of plants and animals. There are also pockets of precious ancient woodland across the landscape, which is a habitat that is even rarer in Northern Ireland than it is in other parts of the UK.
The Woodland Trust will be working with landowners and communities to create a 'resilient wooded landscape', which has numerous benefits in the offing.
The aim of the project is to restore, bolster and connect the vulnerable fragments of ancient woodland. For instance, new hedgerows provide a continuous corridor for the valley's wildlife, including the endangered red squirrel.
It's good news for people too - as the new and improved areas which include quaint bridges - will open up miles of stunning woodland and riverside walks. There will also be an imaginative education and activity programme which provides students and members of the public with the chance to get to grips with the natural heritage that's on their very doorstep.
Volunteers will be able to survey sites to check out invasive species, while volunteers will develop skills and confidence, with skills rewarded through formal accreditation.
Dave Scott, the Woodland Trust's Treescape Project Manager, said: "This is an unmissable opportunity for the Trust and for local people. By creating and protecting woodland, we’re helping to create a resilient wooded landscape that will stay strong when faced with ever increasing threats, such as flooding and tree disease."
"But a robust landscape depends upon people. We want farmers to see the practical and financial benefits – the natural capital – that trees and woodland bring. We’ll also be working with schools in the hope that young people will grow up with a real love of nature. All in all, thanks to HLF funding and National Lottery players, the project means good news for wildlife and for the people who live in, work in, or visit the Faughan Valley."
Image courtesy of Michael Cooper