The Minister made the announcement during a visit to the Mourne Mountains to see the damage caused by the recent wildfires, view some of the regeneration, and to discuss emergency plans for restoration and recovery.
Speaking after the visit, the Minister said: “I am pleased to allocate £332k through the Environment Challenge Fund to the Mourne Wildfire Recovery Project, led by the National Trust. This funding will go towards future planning, survey and monitoring, stakeholder engagement, purchase of equipment (for mitigation and response) and habitat management works associated with the recent Mournes fire.
“I visited the Mournes in April 2021, the day after the fire took hold and could see the devastation it had caused to the extensive wildlife and biodiversity in the area. The pictures we all saw in the news in the following days, were very upsetting and thankfully our firefighters got the blaze under control.
“Over three months later, the scars of that weekend are still visible on these mountains, but I am encouraged to see some healing as well. Some plants and vegetation have sprung back to life and I have no doubt, that this fund, as well as the expertise of those in the National Trust, will help nurse the mountain back to health in the future.”
The Minister concluded: “Wildfires hurt the natural environment, threaten lives and livelihoods and can obliterate the local wildlife. Of course, they are rarely a natural occurrence and are almost always started deliberately or recklessly. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our natural environment - seeing it quite literally go up in smoke is utterly devastating.”