Mayor of Ballymoney, Bill Kennedy, planted the first of 100 new beech trees at the iconic Dark Hedges on the Bregagh Road near Stranocum, last week.
The Mayor said: “When the Stuart family of Gracehill House planted the original beech trees back in the 18th century they didn’t know they were planting a hedge that would attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.
“It’s an honour to plant the first of this new generation of Dark Hedges and I hope that it grows among its predecessors here to preserve this site for many years to come and for many visitors to marvel and enjoy.”
Mervyn Storey MLA, Minister for the Department of Social Development and Chairman of the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust said: “A tree anywhere is a thing of beauty and natural wonder. It provides a habitat and shelter for many species and creates an atmosphere of tranquility and peace.
“But here at the Dark Hedges that value is magnified. Today’s tree planting will ensure that the Dark Hedges will be protected and enjoyed by many for years to come.”
Carole O’Kane from the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust said: “This is an exciting and valuable project and we at the Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust are delighted to have worked in partnership with the Dark Hedges Preservation Trust and Woodland Trust to deliver this Heritage Lottery Funded project.
“The planting of this new generation of dark hedges is only one aspect of the project. We have undertaken tree surveys and the subsequent recommended works to ensure public safety. We have investigated the ecological value of the site and the necessary measures to protect and conserve it.
“We have appointed a contractor to remove the fence that ran along the front of the trees and erect a new fence behind the trees. We have produced a leaflet and web page to raise awareness of the site and we are awaiting planning permission to install interpretation panels to inform the ever increasing number of visitors to the site of the historical, natural and cultural value of the Dark Hedges.”