A NEW native woodland - which could one day boast as many as 150,000 trees - has opened in Northern Ireland. 

The first phase of Glas-na-Bradan Wood was planted by members of the public on land in the Belfast Hills. 

Purchased last year by the Woodland Trust NI, the 60-hectare site is now home to more than 45,000 trees, including hazel, alder, Scots pine, silver birch, downy birch, cherry and oak.

READ MORE: Glas-na-Bradan Wood: First of 150,000 trees at new Belfast woodland planted

Ian McCurley, director of Woodland Trust Northern Ireland, said: “We are delighted to open the gates of Glas-na-Bradan Wood for the public in time for summer 2022, and we hope that this young woodland will become a regular destination for people to explore on foot.

"We need to plant more trees on a landscape scale, like Glas-na-Bradan Wood, across Northern Ireland for people, nature and climate.”

The Woodland Trust purchased the site, named Glas-na-Bradan Wood by the public, in 2021, with funding from Biffa Award and Northern Ireland Environment Agency. NIEA funding has been allocated to complete a programme of works that includes the upgrade of the existing 2 km walking track to the top of the hill, and the creation of a signature ford to cross the ‘Stream of the Salmon’- the Glas-na-Bradan River.

Other works include the installation of management gates with traditional stone pillars, kissing gates to enable public access on foot and fencing around the boundary of the site.

The funding also secured two staff posts for two years, namely a project manager and a community development officer, to implement the plans for Glas-na-Bradan Wood. More than 45,000 trees and 5 km of hedging were planted by 1,300 volunteers in the first year of a five-year tree and hedge community planting scheme.

Forest Service NI funded the establishment of the trees in 2021-2022 through a Small Woodland Grant Scheme for 14.7 hectares, and the fencing around the planted area with a grant of £80,000.

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots said: “The project represents a major environmental gain for Belfast and indeed all of Northern Ireland through significant native woodland planting, priority habitat restoration and management, general biodiversity conservation, carbon capture and landscape preservation, as well as creating appropriate countryside recreation opportunities.

"This is a great example of a project that will deliver beneficial outcomes and contribute to Green Growth and the Forests For Our Future initiatives.”