Kilcooley Wood is taking a well-earned bow
Published: Wed, 19 Mar 2014
We are delighted that land which we leased to the Woodland Trust in the late 1990s has been given an official seal of approval by being declared a Local Nature Reserve.
The land now known as Kilcooley Wood in Bangor is owned by the Housing Executive and for years was maintained as mown grass parkland is the latest woodland to become one of 27 Local Nature Reserves in Northern Ireland. It recognises the wood’s importance to both wildlife and people.
Although still in its infancy it is already proving a green oasis stretching along one side of the busy Rathgael Road. On the other side of the road, the magnificent old trees within the privately-owned Clandeboye Estate provide an impressive backdrop.
Some 15 years ago, after the land was leased local residents, local groups and schoolchildren helped the Woodland Trust plant thousands of native trees including oak, willow, alder and birch in the wetter areas. Today, the young trees have flourished and already tower several feet above the tallest of walkers.
Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, recognised the ‘invaluable’ role played by local people saying: “The Trust is absolutely delighted with this designation. We’re extremely grateful for the invaluable support received from everyone, including the Housing Executive and Kilcooley Community Forum, who helped this well-loved woodland to take shape.”
The Local Nature Reserve declaration was received from North Down Borough Council in conjunction with Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC).
Woodland Trust volunteer Peter Lyons enthused: “Kilcooley Wood is the most amazing urban woodland, enjoyed by walkers on a daily basis. In springtime visitors will find scatterings of lesser celandine and bluebells, mostly along the woodland edge; while summer brings early purple orchids and meadow brown butterflies. You will often see chaffinches and, if you’re lucky, the occasional sparrowhawk, no doubt visiting from Clandeboye Estate.
“This welcome designation recognises the importance of the wood, in terms of nature conservation and community value.”
Owen Brady, our Area Manager for North Down and Ards, commented: “It is fantastic to see this area develop and grow from mown grass to an important wood for both wildlife and local residents. We’re pleased to have played our part in this initiative and hope this designation is just the first of many more good things to happen with the wood.”
The Mayor of North Down, Councillor Andrew Muir, said: “The Council was very pleased to recommend Kilcooley Wood for LNR designation and would congratulate all those involved in enhancing this area and helping to securing this important conservation accolade.”