Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced Glenarm Forest as Northern Ireland’s first accredited Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) conservation forest.
Minister Poots said: “Northern Ireland will now join a pan-Commonwealth network of sustainable conservation forests protecting our woodlands for future generations and creating a physical and lasting legacy of the Queen’s leadership of the Commonwealth.
"Notably, this announcement is particularly timely with the UK hosting COP26 in Glasgow.
"The importance of protecting forests as a core climate mitigation action has received heightened attention and momentum globally through the COP26 pledge by more than one hundred countries to protect and restore the earth’s forests.”
Minister Poots visited Glenarm Estate on October 25 and highlighted that the QCC accreditation "recognises Glenarm forest’s dedication to sustainable forestry and its role in contributing to people’s wellbeing and enjoyment for the community and for the generations to come".
In launching the project at Glenarm, the minister highlighted the importance of the project, saying: “This is a unique and ambitious project which will create social, environmental, recreational, tourism and economic benefits for the local area.
"It will help to raise the awareness of the importance of forests to society and encourage landowners to plant new woodlands in line with my department’s Forests for Our Future Programme to plant 18 million trees by 2030.”
Glenarm Forest project a 'result of innovation'
The 350ha project is "the result of innovation, commitment and partnership working between the department and Glenarm Estate and other stakeholders".
Lord Antrim, Randal, the 15th Earl of Antrim and current custodian of Glenarm Castle, welcomed the accreditation and thanked those present for their work and support for the project.
During the visit, the minister met with local council representatives, and staff and children from Seaview Integrated Primary School, as well as stakeholders involved in the Glenarm Forest QCC project working group.
The first trees were planted on a new native woodland site to mark the occasion by the minister, Lord Antrim and the Seaview Integrated Primary School children.