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New 10-year Belfast Tree strategy to connect city’s residents to nature takes root

Date: 05 Oct 2023

Category: Climate and biodiversity

Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy launches Belfast Tree Strategy at the Tropical Ravine, Botanic Gardens

A new 10-year Belfast Tree strategy was launched at the Tropical Ravine at Botanic Gardens this morning.

As part of the event, the Lord Mayor planted a ‘Survivor’ tree gifted from The Green Legacy Hiroshima initiative, established to safeguard seedlings of trees that survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb by sharing them with 40 partner countries.

Developed after extensive public consultation, the Belfast Tree Strategy’s vision is: “That Belfast is a city which focuses on protecting, enhancing and expanding its woodlands, hedges, and trees, connecting people to nature, and ensuring that these continue to be a major asset to everyone who lives, works in, and visits our city” – a vision that 97% of consultees ‘definitely agree’ or ‘agree’ with.

The Belfast Tree Strategy is accompanied by an action plan which the council will take forward with its partners.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Ryan Murphy said: “We’re honoured to have been entrusted to plant this Survivor tree in Belfast today, symbolising the resilience of life, a desire for peace – and marking the launch of our new Belfast Tree Strategy, which is all about protecting Belfast’s trees, woodlands, and hedges for today, and for future generations.

“We’ve listened carefully to people’s concerns and priorities. For example, 93.5% of all respondents feel that there are too few trees in Belfast. So we’re going to introduce more native trees and green spaces into the city – and our city centre, through our Bolder Vision for Belfast.

“We also want to encourage volunteering and give more advice to people planting trees in their own gardens. Our new strategy reflects existing programmes such as Belfast One Million Trees, the Belfast Local Development Plan, the Belfast Agenda, and clearly links tree planting and management with our climate ambitions, as well as the health and well-being benefits that trees provide. I’d like to thank everyone who took time to help us shape this important strategy and to all our partners who will be working with us to deliver on our shared vision.”

Over 900 people engaged in the Belfast Tree Strategy public consultation with workshops at 2 Royal Avenue Belfast, Avoniel Leisure Centre, Falls Park Bowling Pavilion, Girdwood Community Hub and Malone House Belfast and 500 free trees were distributed, along with council staff giving practical advice on planting and maintenance. Belfast City Council’s Disability Advisory Panel and council’s Sustainability and Climate Change Board also helped to shape the strategy.

Key actions include:

  • moving from a five year to a three-year tree health and condition inspection programme for all park trees,
  • moving from a five year to a two-year tree health and condition tree inspection programme for Department for Infrastructure (DfI) street trees which the council manage on behalf of DfI,
  • undertaking a detailed canopy cover assessment including woodlands and hedges,
  • creating an ‘opportunity tree planting plan’ across the city,
  • undertaking a tree equity mapping exercise in partnership with the Woodland Trust,
  • co-ordinating collaborative arrangements to meet the objectives of the council’s One Million Tree initiative,
  • coordinating skills building and feeding into apprenticeship schemes to help achieve the strategy’s objectives,
  • developing and managing woodlands,
  • undertaking a capital asset ‘value for amenity’ review for council-owned trees,
  • undertaking an Equity Mapping exercise across the city - looking at tree canopy cover in terms of health, air pollution, education, and employment; and
  • providing environmental education, community, and volunteer opportunities to get involved in delivering the strategy.

To read the strategy and action plan in full, go to

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