Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to make this Statement in the Assembly today to announce the recent accreditation of Glenarm Forest as Northern Ireland’s first QCC forest conservation project. 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 the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (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 25 October 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.”
The 350 hectare 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: “QCC accreditation is a wonderful and prestigious accolade and testament to the commitment of Glenarm Estate and the Department to work together in managing our woodlands for the benefit of the community and future generations.”
During the visit, the Minister met with local council representatives, and staff and children from Seaview Integrated Primary School, who strongly supported the project, as well as stakeholders involved in the Glenarm Forest QCC project working group.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey said: “I am delighted to hear that Glenarm Forest has been recognised as part of The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council enjoy a positive working relationship with Glenarm Castle Estate and Forest Service and are committed to the development of Glenarm village and the opportunities for economic growth, tourism potential and outdoor recreation that QCC status can bring. There is no denying that the forest offers huge potential and improvements under this prestigious project that will not only benefit local residents, but tourists and the biodiversity as well.”
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.