- Text size: A A

A breath of fresh air for Local Nature Reserve

05 September 2017


Monkstown Wood, in the historic County Antrim village of the same name, is set for a facelift.

This urban woodland has received a funding injection of £65,000, made up of £20,000 from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and almost £45,000 from Biffa Award; a multi-million-pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to community and environmental projects across the UK, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund.

Cared for by the Woodland Trust, the wood is described by The Independent as “a small gem wedged between industrial buildings and a river”.   

The river is the glorious Three Mile Water and the gem has the added advantage of linking with the Newtownabbey Way, a popular walking/cycling path that runs from Newtownabbey to the shores of Belfast Lough. 

Some 17 years ago, the conservation charity planted thousands of native trees here – a flourishing and towering mix of oak, rowan, alder and wild cherry.  And more recently Monkstown Wood was declared a Local Nature Reserve in recognition of its importance to people and wildlife.

Rosie Irwin is the Woodland Trust’s contracts manager and said: “This wood is already well used by local people and groups, from dog walkers to anglers.  But, with the forthcoming improvements, we want to put Monkstown firmly on the map.  We want it to become a favourite with everyone – nature lovers and visitors from further afield.”

The transformation will get underway this September, with works including improved access, new and improved pathways, quaint stone walls, way-markers, benches and interpretation boards. 

The new pathways will take walkers a step closer to nature: one route will provide access to an adjacent council-owned wildflower meadow, while another will offer a closer look at the Three Mile Water.

Rosie continued: “The Three Mile Water Conservation & Angling Association have carried out extensive wildlife surveys of the important river corridor.  They’ve worked tirelessly for years to improve the river quality – partly for the population of trout and salmon, but with other wildlife benefiting too.  Kingfishers, dippers, otters and Daubenton's bats are just some of the creatures spotted.”

Gillian French, Biffa Award Head of Grants, added: “This urban woodland is a stunning green space loved by the local community. Biffa Award are proud that with Landfill Communities Funding we are able to support this ambitious project and create an even better space that will attract visitors to travel to Monkstown.”

Monkstown Wood can be accessed via Monkstown Road, just off the Doagh Road, Newtownabbey.  It will officially show off its new look next spring.

To find out more search for Monkstown Wood online at woodlandtrust.org.uk