Downpatrick Schools To Plant Trees In March

Pupils from all the schools in Downpatrick have organised a community tree planting event for Friday 22 March 2019.

The initial idea stemmed from the Down High School Eco-enrichment group last year. The sixth formers wanted to find new ways to increase biodiversity in the area and to safeguard habitats for native wild flowers, birds, small mammals and pollinators. The students felt strongly that the initiative should benefit the whole community, not just one school, and that all schools should work together to improve the environment.

Downpatrick pupils prepare for a community tree planting session on Friday 22 March.

After taking advice from Newry Mourne and Down District Council, the students from Down High School planned a successful tree plant on their own school grounds last spring. From this experience, they then approached all schools in Downpatrick to gauge interest in a community tree plant and received unanimous support. With all schools on board, the students approached the Council for help to locate a suitable site.

Newry Mourne and Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Mark Murnin said: “The Council is committed to improving our greenspace for biodiversity and appreciates the important role that trees have in improving our environment. When we were approached by the young people from Downpatrick schools we were more than happy to get involved in this terrific initiative.

“The site that has been chosen is adjacent to Dunleath playing fields. It is accessible to all and is overlooked by the wonderful new Down Leisure Centre. We believe that this will create the ideal location for a new community woodland.”

Over 200 native trees, including alder and willow, will be planted on the day. All the trees being planted have been generously donated by local nursery owner Gerard Byrne.

Rachel Wilson, Down High School teacher said: “This is a chance for pupils of all ages and abilities to get outside and improve their environment. It is about creating an opportunity for the young people of Downpatrick to focus on their future together. We hope that the woodland area will become an innovative outdoor learning environment for all the schools in the town.”