NI pledges to plant 18m trees over next ten years

(Photo: LPA/REX/Shutterstock)
(Photo: LPA/REX/Shutterstock)

A new government programme has pledged to plant 18 million trees - the equivalent of 10 trees per person - in Northern Ireland over the next ten years.

The ‘Forests for our Future’ programme is the region's biggest and most ambitious plan to develop its woodland.

Forest cover in Northern Ireland currently sits at 8 percent, well behind the UK average of 13 percent.

The programme also pledges to increase woodland's contribution to a sustainable, healthy environment and contribute to the UK net zero by 2050 target.

The measures were announced by NI's Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots.

“We plant only 200 hectares of woodland per year, instead of the 900 hectares recommended recently by the Committee on Climate Change," he said.

"That is why I have launched ‘Forests for our Future’ - my department’s biggest and most ambitious plan to improve and sustain our forests and contribute to economic growth.”

Regarding land acquisition, the minister said existing publicly owned land, including local government land, has the greatest potential for woodland creation in the short term.

"I have written to ministerial colleagues and chief executives of local councils seeking their support and commitment to make public land available for tree planting," Mr Poots explained.

"I also plan to establish an Afforestation Forum to develop an action plan for increasing afforestation and I will oversee this work personally.”

It comes as the National Trust recently revealed plans to plant 20 million trees over the next 10 years.