It's been a busy month for the Coleraine office, working on projects that range from improving school gardens for wildlife and environmental education, to working on long-runnning landscape scale projects on the North Coast. The weather has been a bit inclement, but they have battled on to get projects finished on time!
The beginning of the month saw installation of two wooden stiles in Ballintoy to enable ramblers to cross field boundaries safely. The stiles were part completed in the workshop and then screwed and nailed together out on site. We included non-slip wire tread covering on the steps of the stile to help prevent slippages.
The Coleraine office does quite a lot of work with schools, helping to improve their wildlife gardens, and March saw the completion of two: a wildlife trail and polytunnel installation in Ballycraigy Primary School in Antrim, and a growing garden in Kilmoyle Primary School, Coleraine. An opening ceremony was held in Kilmoyle Primary School on 17th March - Kenny Henry from the office went along, and Cllr Mervyn Storey MLA was also in attendance. These projects are typically paid for by grants awarded to the school to enable biodiversity and environmental awareness education.
All the schools in Northern Ireland are now signed up to the Eco-Schools programme, a holistic programme aimed at improving environmental awareness through a multi-curricular approach. It's implemented worldwide, but the programme has been running in Northern Ireland for 20 years, and they held an Anniversary Celebration Event which the Coleraine office was invited to attend. It was a great event, where the Conservation Action Team (CAT) leader Kenny Henry and Nature Networks Trainee Ruth Linton met hundreds of school children & teachers, and promoted the work the Coleraine office is doing in schools around the region.
On the North Coast the CAT team have been doing work on a long-running project that aims to help stabilise the dune system of the White Rocks – East Strand area. Most recently they were out transplanting marram grass from inland dune systems to bare sections landscaped during the recent carpark refurbishment. It was a windy, but sunny day out and the volunteers enjoyed themselves.
A high profile project the Coleraine office was involved in this month was a tree planting day, sponsored by NIE – who undertake to plant at least 5 trees for every 1 tree they cut down during routine electricity line maintenance. The planting was done on 2 sites owned by Coleraine Borough Council; Somerset Tree Belt near Somerset Forest, and Christie Park on the shores of the River Bann. Over 650 trees were planted in the 2 locations, and in Christie Park we were joined by NIE employees, CBC staff, the Mayor of Coleraine Councillor Duddy, and a group of schoolchildren from Kilowen Primary School which is close by. The day was a great success and we wish NIE all the best with their future tree planting projects across the region.
TCV has recently received funding from Biffa Award and Enkalon foundation to do habitat improvement work in Rea's Wood and Lough Shore Park. The Coleraine office will be carrying out the work, and so far we have been litterpicking in Lough Shore Park – on a very windy day, which made conditions difficult! Potential improvement works include removing Invasive Non Native Species such as Himalayan Balsam & Salmonberry. The adjacent sites are owned and managed by a combination of Antrim Borough Council, NIEA and Forestry Service and are covered by ASSI/SAC/RAMSAR designations, so we will be working closely with the aforementioned stakeholders to ensure improvement works proceed smoothly.