Dairy farmer to plant 2,000 trees in wildlife-boosting project

The groups are looking for other farmers who may be interested in implementing similar projects
The groups are looking for other farmers who may be interested in implementing similar projects

A dairy farmer is planting 2,000 trees and creating ponds as part of a project that will see wet woodland along the River Faughan in Northern Ireland.

John Doherty is working with the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland and the Loughs Agency to improve water quality and boost wildlife.

The opportunity came after he had previously created riverside buffer strips along both sides of the river's Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in November 2019.

Fencing was installed back from the riverbank, with tree planting and stiles erected for access.



Two existing field drains carry nutrients and sediment during flood events from the land directly into the River Faughan.

Measures will now be put in place to improve water quality and create a wet woodland to improve the local biodiversity value of the site.



The current project is aimed at improving water quality by buffering sediment and nutrients originating from the two ditches.

The drains have now been diverted into a section of field (4 acres) via a series of leaky dams and then into newly created ponds.

Tree roots help filter the water and slow the flow in times of flood ensuring that when the ponds are full the woodland provides a further buffer with the River Faughan.

Dave Scott, project manager with Woodland Trust, said farmers were providing 'local nature based solutions' as a way to create new woodland.

“Areas of wet woodland are one of the most dynamic habitats in the UK and Ireland and are important for a range of priority species, including otter, nesting birds, insects, bats and amphibians.

"With Northern Ireland being one of the least wooded countries in Europe (8% tree cover) any increase in new woodland is welcomed."

The Loughs Agency said such woodlands reduced water treatment costs, cut flood risk and provided increased flood storage.



The groups are looking for other farmers and landowners who may be interested in implementing similar projects, particularly in the Faughan area.