Two areas of woodland in the East Antrim district have been officially awarded ‘Local Nature Reserve’ status and will now be ‘protected areas of land’.
Local Nature Reserves are places with wildlife or geological features that are of special interest locally which havebeen designated by a local authority, to conserve its environmental and recreational value.
Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen sit side-by-side on the western edge of Carrickfergus.
Bashfordsland Wood is a ten year old woodland owned and managed by Council and Oakfield Glen is a mature woodland, owned and managed by The Woodland Trust.
Council has worked in partnership with the Trust since 2007 and a network of paths and access points have been created between the two areas.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim said, “The site is popular with local people as well as being home to a wide range of wildlife including birds and bats. It makes an important contribution not just to nature but to local health and wellbeing initiatives.
“A number of entrances make it very accessible and it’s popular with walkers, naturalist and school groups. The site demonstrates Council’s commitment to conserving and enhancing biodiversity throughout the Borough and to protecting urban green space for the community.”
Rosie Irwin from the Woodland Trust paid a special tribute to the ‘Friends of Bashfordsland Wood and Oakfield Glen’, “The group has been meeting monthly for almost two years now and they do a great job at helping out with the site. They carry out important tasks such as river cleans, invasive species removal and tree maintenance.
“We’re delighted to have been granted this LNR status and to continue working in partnership with Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to protect our woodlands. We want people to fall in love with getting outdoors and help us to restore our ancient woodlands for the benefit of wildlife and people.”
Dr Hilary Kirkpatrick, Chair of the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside said, “Local Nature Reserves provide an opportunity to keep fit and healthy, encourage learning and also boost tourism. They are also a great way to encourage children to get outdoors and play.
“We’re excited to see partnerships develop, like this one in Mid and East Antrim, to help maintain our natural heritage and ensure our environment is protected for future generations to enjoy.”
The Local Nature Reserve is a result of hard work from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, The Woodland Trust, Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Allen & Mellon Environmental.