Page last updated at 06:50 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Call to save NI ancient woodlands

The trust has appealed for public help

Over the last 40 years 13% of ancient woodland in Northern Ireland has been lost, the Woodland Trust has said.

The Trust has launched WoodWatch to provide tools and information for people to find and save threatened woodland in their local areas.

Patrick Cregg of the Trust said the situation was serious.

"This is a worrying picture. Research shows that Northern Ireland's oldest woods are small, fragmented and disappearing fast," he said.

"They are places of great beauty and tranquillity, home to many rare and vulnerable wildlife species. Once lost, they're gone for good and yet we continue to bury them under tonnes of concrete."

Mr Cregg said that in Northern Ireland, ancient woodland (land wooded since at least 1600) was particularly scarce, covering only 0.08% of the landscape; by comparison ancient woodland is thought to cover around 2% of Great Britain.

He said many of NI's oldest woods have been lost to agriculture and development since the 1960s.

In total, 273 of Northern Ireland's ancient and long-established woods have been cleared since that time, the Trust said.

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