North west to benefit from Heritage Lottery Fund boost
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced funding of over £50,000 for the first phase of a Woodland Trust project set to revitalise the Faughan Valley landscape, on the outskirts of Derry/Londonderry.
The funding boost will enable the conservation charity to build plans, over the next 18 months, for a massive £1 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. New and improved access, including quaint bridges, will open up miles of stunning woodland and riverside walks. And 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 is the Woodland Trust’s Treescape Project Manager and says: “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.”