Ireland’s leading organics recycling firm Natural World Products (NWP) has unveiled plans to plant 15,000 trees by 2025 at its headquarters in the Belfast Hills, creating crucial new native woodlands that will cover an area roughly the size of 10 football pitches.

The three-year project, in collaboration with Belfast Hills Partnership, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and the Woodland Trust has already seen the first phase of planting native species saplings, germinated in NWP’s peat-free compost, get under way at the company’s Glenside Road location.

Colm Warren, Chief Executive at NWP, said:

“As we continue to seek solutions to address issues associated with climate change, we are delighted to be launching this tree planting initiative.

“The trees themselves and the compost and soil conditioners used play an incredible role in terms of carbon capture, helping to return organic material to the soil and in enabling us to start restoring formerly neglected lands to more natural states of biodiversity, and reduce erosion

“With a continuous programme of planting and other exciting collaborations happening in other council areas we have an ambitious vision to do a lot more of this type of work in the Belfast Hills and beyond.

“Through this type of effective collaboration, we can seek to increase tree coverage, build soil health, improve biodiversity and protect crucial habitats in the hills surrounding us  while providing critical and sustainable recycling solutions for household-generated food and garden waste.

“It’s people using their brown bins and local recycling centres effectively and providing high quality clean organics for us to process that actually enables this type of thing to happen. It is literally the circular economy on our own doorstep and a local solution to help address in our own small way some of our most significant global challenges.”

NWP is highlighting how soil health can be significantly enhanced through the use of organic peat-free soil conditioners and tailored growing media that, among other benefits, help return crucial organic matter to heavily farmed soils, lock up carbon and help improve overall soil biology to enable productive and sustainable growing while reducing the need to add chemical and synthetic fertilisers.

Colm added:

“The first planting of the trees here at Glenside really completes a very particular local circle, having been germinated in compost produced using organic materials received from local authorities in the area, including Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.”

The project at Glenside forms part of a number of live collaborations that include the Forest Expansion Scheme, the Woodland Trust’s nationwide Woodland Creation, and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council’s Big Tree Project.

Stephen Mackle, Interim Head of Parks and Amenities at Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, added:

“With Northern Ireland having the lowest tree canopy cover in Europe and being significantly below the UK average, there has never been a better time to create an expansive woodland network across our region.

“The NWP vision to improve biodiversity and the natural world is a vision which we share and aligns with our own sustainability goals, we couldn’t be more excited to see the project come to fruition, bringing a new area of woodland for future generations to enjoy.”

Jim Bradley, Partnership Manager from The Belfast Hills Partnership commented:

“We are excited to be partnering with NWP on this project, working alongside its dedicated team and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to ensure there is a positive impact on both the environment and the local community.

“The trees have been planted in an area that is in need of reforestation, which, in the near future, will see a host of environmental benefits, including improved air quality and the reduction of Northern Ireland’s carbon footprint.”