Jan 14 2020

Faughan Valley benefits from Heritage Fund boost

A £1 million push for the Faughan Valley landscape gets underway

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (HF) has announced funding of over £484,400 for a Woodland Trust project set to revitalise the Faughan Valley landscape, on the outskirts of Derry/Londonderry. The funding boost will enable the Woodland Trust to deliver plans, over three years, for a massive £1.2 million project. It’s an undertaking that will benefit the valley’s communities, landowners, landscape and wildlife.

The Faughan Valley runs from the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains along the beautiful River Faughan to the outskirts of the city. Covering some 80 square miles, it has been identified as an area of strategic importance thanks to some precious natural features. The river and its tributaries have well-earned environmental designations in recognition of the huge variety of plants and animals. And pockets of precious ancient woodland – a habitat even rarer in Northern Ireland than elsewhere in the UK – dot this famously scenic land.

The Woodland Trust will work with landowners and communities to create a ‘resilient wooded landscape’, with numerous benefits in the offing. The fundamental aim is to restore, bolster and connect the vulnerable fragments of ancient woodland. New hedgerows, for example, will provide a continuous corridor for the valley’s wildlife, which includes the endangered red squirrel.

It’s good news for people, too as new and improved access, including quaint bridges, will open up miles of stunning woodland and riverside walks. An imaginative education and activity programme will provide the chance for students and members of the public to get to grips with the natural heritage on their doorstep. There will be opportunities for volunteers, from surveying sites to checking out invasive species; volunteers will develop skills and confidence, with some skills rewarded through formal accreditation.

Dave Scott, the Woodland Trust’s Treescape Project Manager commented: “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.

“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 HF 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.”

Ian McCurley, Director of Woodland Trust for Northern Ireland commented: “These are exciting times for The Woodland Trust and for Northern Ireland. This award from the Heritage Fund has come at a crucial time, as woodland cover in Northern Ireland is the lowest in all of Europe at 8%, and our precious ancient woodland cover is 0.04%. Our vision is to protect, restore and connect ancient woodland for people, wildlife and the economy and this funding from HF will enable us to do just that for the Faughan Valley.

We want to establish The Faughan Valley as the best example of woodland in Northern Ireland and support rural communities in the surrounding areas. There are over 150,000 people living in the Derry and Strabane District Council area, and the Faughan Valley is an exciting opportunity for local people to enjoy their rural surroundings and for tourists and daytrippers to discover this naturally beautiful outdoor space, as we link up 1000 acres of publically accessible woodlands in the Faughan Valley area.

“We continue to take action against climate change and tree planting in the Faughan Valley is one of the most effective, simple and cost effective solutions. Not only do the trees absorb Co2, but they also support wildlife, provide outdoor access and are a great way to get communities involved in looking after the environment.”

To learn more about the project contact Project Officer Bronagh Gallagher via Bronaghgallagher@woodlandtrust.org.uk

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