Tree-planting ambitions celebrated as over 23 thousand trees planted in the Mournes

NI Water’s ambition to plant 1 million trees on over 500 hectares of land between 2020-2030 is celebrating the planting of over 23 thousand trees near Fofanny Water Treatment Works in the Mournes.

As the second biggest landowner after the Forestry Service, NI Water is highlighting this landmark event with a closing ceremony and an opportunity to reflect on the co-operation and work competed to date.

CEO NI Water Sara Venning said, “We are in a climate emergency and NI Water is helping, in partnership with others, to address this, collaborating in creating a green and prosperous future for us all.

“Using NI Water land to plant trees offsets the carbon emissions from NI Water’s electricity consumption. Trees being planted near our rivers and streams helps reduce the effect of climate change by capturing carbon and slowing river flow.

“Looking across at this landmark site today, where over 23 thousand trees have been placed, we have visible evidence of the difference we are making in the fight against climate change.”

Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd who was in attendance at the ceremony said: “I want to commend NI Water for their ambitions to plant a million trees on their lands by 2030. This is exactly the type of vision and action that is needed to help reduce our carbon footprint and tackle climate change. It has been a great opportunity to see the final of these 23 000 trees being planted right here in the heart of the Mournes and hear about NI Water’s future plans to plant approximately 400 thousand trees on other NI Water land in County Antrim, Down and Ballykelly. All of these projects are laying the roots for a cleaner, greener society.”

NI Water has already planted over 150,000 trees in some of our 24 drinking water catchments in Counties Antrim and Armagh. Trees planted close to riverbanks help prevent bankside erosion; as much of the water used for our drinking water comes from our rivers and lakes, trees act as a natural filter.

Working in partnership with Forest Service and the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland over the last 10 years, NI Water has planted a diverse range of trees, native to Northern Ireland, to encourage our flowers and fauna to flourish. Trees also provide a home for wildlife and shelter for spawning fish.

CE Forest Service John Joe O’Boyle said, “This new woodland that we are visiting here today, is a great example of the effective partnership between NI Water and Forest Service, working with the Woodland Trust, to bring forward publicly-owned land suitable for planting trees.  We are all becoming more aware of the importance of trees and woodlands in helping to mitigate climate change and in adding to the diversity of our environment, bringing health and well-being benefits for people to enjoy.”

Ian McCurley, Director of Woodland Trust Northern Ireland, said: “We at the Woodland Trust have a crucial role to play and so does everyone. To be able to create new native woodland means more for nature, more for climate and more for people. To increase tree cover in Northern Ireland, we need to pursue a mix of approaches, at a variety of scales appropriate to the landscape. Our partnership with NI Water allows us to create woodland on a landscape scale in order to help reach net zero carbon emissions and tackle the declines in wildlife.”

For more details about NI Water’s plans to plant one million trees and information about building more renewables on NI Water land, visit the link to see a short video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4feN-paQQw

See too, a link to more information on our website.


See below a link to our Power of Water video on our You tube channel.


For further information please visit www.niwater.com/climatechange




Photo Caption 2: L-R CE Forest Service John Joe O’Boyle, Director Woodland Trust NI Ian McCurley, CEO NI Water Sara Venning, Director of Business Services NI Water Alistair Jinks, Minister John O’Dowd Department for Infrastructure.


Media enquiries to the NI Water Press Office via email to press.office@niwater.com

Notes to Editors

  • NI Water is the second biggest landowner in Northern Ireland, after the Forestry Service, owning 11,300 hectares of land. This is made up of 990 hectares of water, 1210 hectares of forest, 1540 hectares of peat bogs and 7260 hectares is agriculture.
  • NI Water produces c.90,000 tonnes of operational CO² per year in the treatment of water and wastewater.
  • 23,150 trees have been planted at Fofanny in the Mournes, since planting began in 2020.
  • Phase 1 of tree-planting began in November 2020, and continued until March, with approximately 40,000 trees being planted at NI Water sites at Dunore in County Antrim and Fofanny in County Down; Dunore, 26,550 and Fofanny, 14,400.
  • There are plans in place for a further approximately 400,000 trees to be planted in Phase 2, subject to funding approval, by June 2022, on NI Water sites in County Antrim, Down and Ballykelly.
  • The current total of trees planted across NI Water sites since 2020 is 49,700.
  • The species planted at Fofanny include Sessile oak, Downy birch, Silver birch, Grey willow, Eared willow, Rowan, Scots pine and Aspen.
  • NI Water aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.

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