The Belfast Hills have numerous small streams which become larger wooded rivers and waterfalls, finally feeding urban rivers down to the River Lagan and Belfast Lough, or west through south Antrim’s countryside to Lough Neagh. Water is also supplied from groundwater sources which bubble up as springs and which have been used by people and businesses in the hills for centuries.
These upland streams are very clean and come with their own mix of plants, insects, amphibians, fish, birds and mammals. The fast flowing streams are home to dippers, caddis flies and mayflies. The rivers of the Belfast Hills are visited by otters, looking for salmon and trout, which rely for survival on the clean waters flowing down from the hills.
Further down stream, however many of these rivers suffer from pollution, presence of invasive species, culverting etc. so are in poor condition. Their presence is often undervalued or even unknown. Hence this project aims to re connect young people with their local rivers, helping young people to look after them and value them. It also aims to help young people see the connections between their local rivers and the Belfast Hills where they find their source, right down to where the river finally flows.
We aim to:
- To encourage young people to find out more about their local river and how it connects to the city, plus its importance for biodiversity and heritage in their area. This in turn will foster greater knowledge and understanding about the life of a river as it journeys through their community.
- To empower young people to gain new skills by learning about and improving their local environment.
- To encourage young people and through them residents and local communities to value and protect their natural heritage and cultural environment.