Views sought on future of Woodburn forest

Woodburn forest.
Woodburn forest.

Local people are being invited to give their views on the future of one the most popular woodland areas in Carrickfergus.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Forest Service has launched a public consultation on its plans for Antrim forestry, including Woodburn.

Located close to the Woodburn reservoirs and within the Woodburn River catchment, the forest is a well-known spot for angling and walking, and accommodates part of the Ulster Way.

North Woodburn Glen is one of a number of areas of native woodlands designated as an ASSI (Area of Special Scientific Interest).

Meanwhile, Woodburn forest is also the site of several non-scheduled historic sites and monuments, including cairns and standing stones.

Several years ago, parts of the woodland fell prey to ramorum disease, resulting in the felling of larch trees.

The area came into focus most recently as the site of a controversial oil and gas exploration well, which was heavily opposed by environmental campaigners.

Efforts have also been made to tackle anti-social behaviour, including the use of ‘scrambler’ bikes at the rural location.

In 2010, there were calls for the then-Agriculture Minister to take steps to protect Woodburn forest after it was reported to have been the venue for an illegal ‘rave’.

But in recent years, the establishment of a “multi-agency” approach with the PSNI and NI Water has helped tackle anti-social behaviour in the area, according to the Forest Service.

Chief Forest Officer Malcolm Beatty said: “As our forests develop as places of industry, environment and leisure, we are encouraging everyone to make their feelings known.

“Woodburn Forest is an extensive area of mainly coniferous woodlands beside the Woodburn reservoirs. Locals will be familiar with the extensive clear felling over recent years that has opened stunning vistas. These areas have been replanted with a mix of species to continue sustainable forestry for future generations.”

Members of the public are invited to express their views and opinions about any of the topic areas presented in the scoping document, available here.