Conservation help needed in Sixmilewater park

David Montgomery gets to grip with using a bo-saw to remove some dying branches from a tree in the Sixmile conservation area. INNT 35-600con
David Montgomery gets to grip with using a bo-saw to remove some dying branches from a tree in the Sixmile conservation area. INNT 35-600con

PEOPLE from Ballyclare and beyond are invited to take part in important conservation work in Sixmilewater Park this Saturday, September 1.

Organised by Groundwork Northern Ireland this is one of a series of activities that will take place in the park’s conservation area.

The aim of the events is to make people aware that the conservation area needs the people of Ballyclare or it will die.

The event will look at woodland management and what practical work is necessary to keep the area healthy. The practical work will involve the removal of some of the invasive species that are threatening the natural regeneration of the trees within the wood and clearing some of the dead and dying trees.

Other events will include learning how to identify trees and getting the chance to plant trees and wildflowers.

Anyone interested should meet at the entrance to the conservation area opposite Grange Valley Avenue at 10.30am on Saturday.

The event is part of @myurbangreen campaign launched by M&S and Groundwork which aims to enlist local volunteers to help maintain the local conservation area.

The Sixmilewater Park is owned by Newtownabbey Borough Council and this area was designated a conservation area many years ago which resulted in minimal maintenance and the area being closed to the public.

Madeleine Kelly, project development officer with Groundwork, explained: “Conservation areas need active management and in 2010, the council park wardens worked with people from the local community to improve access by clearing vegetation including fallen trees and building a bridge.

“The whole of the Sixmilewater River Park is an asset for the people of Ballyclare and surrounding locality.

“The conservation area is a lovely and tranquil place and this programme of events will give people the opportunity to learn more about the various habitats within the area.

“Sometimes it is very easy to take woodlands and other habitats for granted, but over the coming months there will be opportunities for people to learn about woodland management, to learn how to identify trees and wildflowers and do some of the practical work that will be essential to ensuring that the conservation area will be there for future generations to enjoy.”

The new support group, ‘Friends of Sixmilewater River Park Conservation Area’, will be supported by the @myurbangreen campaign.

Wendy Loughridge, M&S Abbeycentre store manager, added: “@myurbangreen is a new and exciting programme that will create a dynamic legacy in communities for the ‘Greener Living Spaces’ we have created with Groundwork.

“The project at The Sixmilewater Park Conservation Area is a brilliant opportunity for the people of Ballyclare to take ownership of the conservation area and ensure it is fit for everyone to enjoy.”

For more information contact Madeleine Kelly at Groundwork on 9074 9494 or email madeleinekelly@groundworkni.co.uk.