Glenarm pupils get behind NI's first Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy bid
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is
backing a bid by DAERA to secure Glenarm Forest as NI's first Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) project.
The QCC is a unique network of forest conservation initiatives which involves all 54 countries of the Commonwealth and marks Her Majesty The Queen’s service to the Commonwealth while conserving indigenous forests for future generations.
Plans for the ambitious 350 hectare project include transforming around 180 hectares of primarily commercial woodland into managed native woodland, and will incorporate a further 170 hectares of designated semi-natural woodland and pastures on the wider Glenarm estate.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey, said “Council are delighted to support DAERA and Forest Service in their bid for QCC status for Glenarm Forest. If successful, this will be the first QCC site in Northern Ireland.
"A significant aspect of QCC criteria is the participation of local people in management of the project. 80 pupils from Seaview Primary recently joined us to celebrate the importance of their local forest and its unique biodiversity. Pupils carried out a number of activities which included forest school learning, a bug hunt, bird box building and natural art.
"Being around trees is good for our mental health and wellbeing and can be a real boost to physiological and psychological health. People walking in woodland have reported feeling less anxiety, hostility, fatigue, confusion, stress and depressive symptoms, and instead feeling more relaxed and energised. As we emerge out of lockdown, the outdoors have never been more important so we really hope the bid pays off.
"Research has consistently shown that regular, ongoing and sustained use of green spaces helps to develop a sense of ownership and connects children to their outdoor environment, stimulating curiosity and inspiring a love of the natural world, that is more likely to remain long afterwards. I hope the children of Seaview Primary and wider Glenarm community help to look after Glenarm Forest for many years to come.”
The DAERA Minister, Edwin Poots said:
“The QCC is a unique, ambitious and exciting initiative that knits together forestry projects from across the Commonwealth, with the common goal of protecting one of the world’s most important habitats – our forests. I am delighted to submit an application, in partnership with the Glenarm estate, that will recognise Glenarm forest as part of this initiative.
“By creating this worldwide network of forests, the QCC will mark Her Majesty the Queen’s service to the Commonwealth and highlight the importance of preserving our forests for the future. I am particularly pleased to submit this application during Northern Ireland’s Centenary Year to ensure Northern Ireland can play its full part in the Commonwealth and to celebrate achievements over the last 100 years in NI.”