Branch out and help woodland project

Madeleine Kelly, project officer with Groundwork Northern Ireland, and local volunteer David Montgomery with one of the branches that is likely to have been hit by a lightning strike in the Conservation Area of Sixmilewater River Park in Ballyclare. INNT 39-561
Madeleine Kelly, project officer with Groundwork Northern Ireland, and local volunteer David Montgomery with one of the branches that is likely to have been hit by a lightning strike in the Conservation Area of Sixmilewater River Park in Ballyclare. INNT 39-561

Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Well, that’s how the saying goes but it seems to have struck several times in the Conservation Area of the Sixmilewater River Park in Ballyclare.

A number of trees have been hit and branches have either fallen or are badly split.

Anyone wanting to see what has happened can do so by coming along to the event that has been organised by Groundwork Northern Ireland to encourage local people into the wood on Saturday, September 29.

Those interested should meet at the entrance to the Conservation Area opposite Grange Valley Ave at 10.30am.

Madeleine Kelly, project officer with Groundwork Northern Ireland, said: “There is a lot of evidence of lightning strikes within the Conservation Area. Branches are split horizontally as well as vertically.

“During a thunderstorm when a tree is struck by lightning, the intense heat boils the tree’s sap instantly and turns the sap into steam. The only way out for the steam is to explode within the branch.

“This then causes the branch to split. The strikes may have happened recently or many years ago. It may also have been during one storm or over several storms.”

The event on Saturday has been organised by Groundwork Northern Ireland as part of @myurbangreen, a campaign launched by M&S and the environmental charity to encourage local volunteers to help maintain the Conservation Area.

It will introduce people to woodland management techniques and will look at what practical work is necessary to keep the Conservation Area healthy.

The practical work will involve the removal of some of the invasive species that are currently threatening the natural regeneration of the trees within the wood and clearing some of the dead and dying trees.

If you can’t make this Saturday there will be a public meeting on Wednesday 3 October in the Sixmilewater Leisure Centre at 7.30pm.

An information leaflet can be obtained by contacting Madeleine Kelly on 028 9074 9494.