Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots MLA made an Oral Statement in the NI Assembly today announcing Glenarm Forest as Northern Ireland’s first accredited Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) conservation forest.
Minister Poots said: “I am delighted to make this Statement in the Assembly today to announce the recent accreditation of Glenarm Forest as Northern Ireland’s first QCC forest conservation project. Northern Ireland will now join a pan-Commonwealth network of sustainable conservation forests protecting our woodlands for future generations and creating a physical and lasting legacy of The Queen’s leadership of the Commonwealth.
“Notably, this announcement is particularly timely with the UK hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The importance of protecting forests as a core climate mitigation action has received heightened attention and momentum globally through the COP26 pledge by more than one hundred countries to protect and restore the earth’s forests.”
Minister Poots visited Glenarm Estate on 25 October and highlighted that the QCC accreditation recognises Glenarm Forest’s dedication to sustainable forestry and its role in contributing to people’s wellbeing and enjoyment for the community and for the generations to come.
In launching the project at Glenarm, the Minister highlighted the importance of the project, saying:
“This is a unique and ambitious project which will create social, environmental, recreational, tourism and economic benefits for the local area. It will help to raise the awareness of the importance of forests to society and encourage landowners to plant new woodlands in line with my Department’s Forests for Our Future Programme to plant 18 million trees by 2030.”
The 350 hectare project is the result of innovation, commitment and partnership working between the Department and Glenarm Estate and other stakeholders.
Lord Antrim, Randal, the 15th Earl of Antrim and current custodian of Glenarm Castle, welcomed the accreditation and thanked those present for their work and support for the project:
“QCC accreditation is a wonderful and prestigious accolade and testament to the commitment of Glenarm Estate and the Department to work together in managing our woodlands for the benefit of the community and future generations.”
During the visit, the Minister met with local council representatives, and staff and children from Seaview Integrated Primary School, who strongly supported the project, as well as stakeholders involved in the Glenarm Forest QCC project working group.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey said:
“I am delighted to hear that Glenarm Forest has been recognised as part of The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council enjoy a positive working relationship with Glenarm Castle Estate and Forest Service and are committed to the development of Glenarm village and the opportunities for economic growth, tourism potential and outdoor recreation that QCC status can bring. There is no denying that the forest offers huge potential and improvements under this prestigious project that will not only benefit local residents, but tourists and the biodiversity as well.”
The first trees were planted on a new native woodland site to mark the occasion by the Minister, Lord Antrim and the Seaview Integrated Primary school children.
Support your Local Craftspeople this Christmas
Support our local #MEArtists and craftspeople this Christmas – that’s the message from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as the Borough prepares for the busy Christmas shopping period in the weeks ahead.
Following a motion which was brought to Council by Alderman Audrey Wales MBE, Council is encouraging shoppers to consider purchasing handmade arts and craft produce as gifts for friends and family this year.
Alderman Wales said: “In Mid and East Antrim we are blessed with a wonderful array of exceptionally talented artists and craftspeople, each producing exquisite, artisan crafts and produce.
“Their wares make for the most thoughtful gifts for any occasion – be it a special ‘piece of home’ for friends or family living abroad, or simply a beautiful display of intricate craftmanship, often using materials sourced from across the Borough.
“Our local artists and craftspeople are crucial to the culture and heritage of Mid and East Antrim and, as they continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic, we are encouraging local shoppers this Christmas to show their support by giving the gift of local craft,” she continued.
“Council, too, remains strongly committed to doing everything we possibly can to support our local artists and craftspeople, and to encouraging a thriving arts scene in Mid and East Antrim.”
The work of several local craftspeople is exhibited and available to purchase in the Visitor Information Centre at Council’s Ballymena headquarters at The Braid, including:
- Vera McCullough Jewellery – bespoke jewellery inspired by Slemish Mountain, the surrounding Antrim Hills and the lush Northern Irish countryside. Vera was commissioned to design a brooch and cufflinks to be presented to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their visit to Mid and East Antrim in 2019.
- WB Woodcraft –items crafted from local, exotic and reclaimed wood and materials. The range includes birdhouses and feeders, fairy doors and houses, wooden bells, Christmas decorations and postboxes.
- Lucy Craig Textiles – heritage items such as letters, photographs and other memorabilia preserved onto textiles and combined with hand embroidery to enhance and personalise the work.
- Country Slate Gifts –unique handmade slate gifts for the home and garden, all of which can be tailored to specific customer requirements.
- Precious Pebble Art – custom made art and gifts for every occasion, made using local pebbles collected from the North Coast.
Carrickfergus Castle Children’s Book Depicts its History through the Eyes of a Child
A Carrickfergus grandfather’s adventures with his grandson have inspired the release of a new book called ‘Danny’s Visit to Carrickfergus Castle’.
Bob Harper, from the town, has written the book after many visits to the castle with his grandson prompted questions about its history.
The book details interesting facts and also is beautifully illustrated by Bob.
It takes children on a journey through the castle allowing them to learn as they go.
Speaking about its launch, Bob said he wanted to depict the history of the castle through a child’s eyes and make it an easy, enjoyable learning experience.
“I enjoy many adventures with my grandson around Carrickfergus which is steeped in history, none more so than the stunning Carrickfergus Castle,” Bob said.
“I wanted to create a book for children that would make it enjoyable for them to learn and give them facts that they would always remember.”
The book talks about how Carrickfergus was named after the Rock of Fergus and about the famous knight, John de Courcy, who built the majestic castle which proudly sits on Belfast Lough.
Alderman Billy Ashe MBE congratulated Bob on the publication said it was an “excellent concept for a story and a great way to educate our children on the history of the borough”.
“We are always trying to promote civic engagement for our younger generation and this book is a perfect way to do that,” he added.
‘Danny’s Visit to Carrickfergus Castle’ will be available for purchase in Visitor Centres across the borough at a cost of £5.