Belfast is to get a new 250-acre woodland which is to be developed close to Cavehill Country Park in the north of the city.
The Woodland Trust has spent £600,000 acquiring the site.
The bulk of the money has come from an environment fund with top-up cash from Stormont’s Environment Department.
Two thirds of the land is suitable for native woodland, the rest is species rich grassland which supports a wide range of important plants. The charity plans to open the site to the public once planting and other works have taken place.
“To be able to create woodlands on this scale means more for nature, more for climate change and more for people,” said Ian McCurley, the Woodland Trust’s director in Northern Ireland.
“We need to rapidly increase tree cover to help reach net zero carbon emissions and tackle the declines in wildlife. We want to conserve the land in the Belfast Hills and restore it to a beautiful habitat for people and nature.”
Northern Ireland has the lowest level of tree cover in Europe at 8% although there is a target to get that to 12% by 2050.
The Environment Department has plans to plant 18 million trees across Northern Ireland by 2030. Almost 700,000 of them have already been planted. The Woodland Trust estimates that those 18m trees will add about 1% to Northern Ireland’s tree density.