More land needed for tree planting for carbon storage in Colmcille’s former oak grove of Derry

A shortage of land has been flagged as an obstacle to tree-planting drives aimed at storing carbon in what was once Colmcille’s oak grove.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 9:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 12:57 pm
Colrs. Jackson and Durkan with the Mayor, Michaela Boyle.

Sinn Féin Councillor Christopher Jackson raised the matter at the monthly meeting of the Derry City and Strabane District Council Environment and Regeneration Committee.

Colr. Jackson revealed that a number of Council-sponsored tree-planting initiatives in the Waterside had been victims of their own success.

He said two schemes that had involved the supply of trees from the Woodland Trust for planting on DC&SDC land had been hugely successful.

“The last couple of years there have been a number of projects where trees have been planted in the Waterside.

“The trees are provided to Council by the Woodland Trust.

“This year we set a target of 1,000 trees. We exceeded that and planted 2,000.

“The difficulty seems to be getting land on which to plant the trees.

“There are plenty of trees available from the Woodland Trust,” he observed.

SDLP Councillor Mary Durkan referred to the launch of a new campaign by the National Trust to mark its 125th anniversary by planting 125,000 trees across the North.

“I know we haven’t got any National Trust properties but its something to look at,” she said.

The Council Director of Environment and Regeneration Karen Phillips said officers will be working with other agencies to encourage similar carbon sequestration initiatives throughout the district in the years to come.

“We have control of our own lands but we also wish to encourage other parties to get involved,” she said.

The matter was discussed as the Council’s Green Infrastructure Action Plan 2019 - 2032 was laid before the committee. It includes 184 Green Infrastructure actions that will be delivered in partnership with the GI Stakeholder Group (comprising members from the Strategic Growth Partnership), to assist with the Strategic Growth Plan and Local Development Plan.

Among the actions is a commitment to “increase urban tree planting to alleviate the urban heat island effect, to reduce heat stroke and exhaustion by selecting trees and shrubs with cooling properties, for example, large stature trees species and those with wide dense canopy and high leaf solar reflectance.”

The desired outcome of this action will be the “identification of opportunities to increase tree planting in the city centre to reduce the impact of extreme temperatures, for example” and “more woods funding.”

The GI Plan says the Council will work with Creggan Country Park, the Woodland Trust and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) on achieving these ambitions over the next decade.

Another proposed action is the creation of “edible landscapes designed for social inclusion and promoting local biodiversity at ten sites, to include foraging corridors, public green spaces and along greenways.”