National Tree Week marks the start of the tree planting season. It took place this year from Saturday 26 November to Sunday 4 December 2022. The theme for National Tree Week was Planting for Our Future.

Belfast Hills Partnership enjoyed a full week of events, talks, tree planting and education sessions to mark National Tree Week. 

National Tree Week launched with an online talk entitled, Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place. In this talk BHP Manager Jim Bradley outlines some of the pros and cons associated with tree planting. He examines the complexities that can arise from relying solely on tree planting as a climate crisis solution. The talk is now available to watch back online.

Planting for Our Future

Aligning with the theme of Planting for Our Future families came along to The Woodland Trust’s Glas-na-Bradan site to assist with the creation of a new native woodland in the Belfast Hills.  Families secured their legacy in the Belfast Hills by planting a new area of woodland. Attendees will be able to watch the young saplings sprout into a haven for biodiversity for years to come.

Furthermore, new trees were planted in partnership with Black Mountain Rewilding Project and Year 10 pupils from Coláiste Feirste. The school pupils planted a mixture of oak and birch saplings on Black Mountain. The saplings developed from seeds gathered across the Hills by our Volunteers in our Native Tree Nursery.  BHP Woodland Officer Lisa Critchley explained the importance of using seeds that are from a local source,

Locally sourced seeds are collected by volunteers and brought back to our Tree Nursery for propagation before planting. By using locally sourced seeds for tree planting we are not only ensuring that our carbon footprint remains as low as possible but it also means that the trees have a better chance of survival as they are still in a familiar environment to the parent trees.

Environmental Engagement Officer Laura Shiels visited P4 pupils from Christ the Redeemer in West Belfast to raise awareness about trees. Young people learnt about the importance of trees and their vital role in supporting biodiversity and improving air quality. Hopefully this instils young people with the right passion for nature to ensure its preservation in the future.

Habitat Management

National Tree Week isn’t just about planting trees. The team of Belfast Hills Partnership Volunteers conducted habitat management at Falls Park. Working alongside staff from Belfast City Council Community Parks Outreach (West) Team, volunteers cleared invasive laurel from the river banks.

Volunteers enjoying National Tree Week tasks such as tree planting & invasive species management.

This will allow more light into the area to encourage native flora to grow, will benefit the river, and hopefully deter anti-social behaviour. It is hoped that the area will then be planted with native trees next year as part of a habitat restoration & education project.

Laura Shiels, Environmental Engagement Officer

The week finished up at an event run by Belfast City Council at King George V Playing Fields. BHP were on hand to offer advice and guidance to those interested in tree planting. As part of the One Million Trees project a number of free trees were given away to members of the public.

Over 300 trees were planted or given away throughout National Tree Week.  This will work to offset carbon emissions, support biodiversity and improve the air quality of the greater Belfast area. Increasing green space in urban areas will boost the physical and mental health of local residents.