Call for Sixmilewater eco-warriors

Participants in the first 'Early Morning Bird Chorus Walk' with bird expert Dot Blakely in Sixmilewater River Park.
Participants in the first 'Early Morning Bird Chorus Walk' with bird expert Dot Blakely in Sixmilewater River Park.
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FOLLOWING on from a successful public meeting to rally support for the Sixmilewater Conservation Area - a precious piece of wildlife habitat within the Sixmilewater River Park in Ballyclare - a series of activities has been organised by Groundwork Northern Ireland within this zone.

An event for anyone interested in learning more about the Conservation Area is happening on Saturday, July 28 from 10.30am to noon. It will be a guided walk through the wooded area and provide an opportunity for people to learn the different methods used for identifying trees including using leaves, bark, shape and form. All those interested should meet at the entrance to the Conservation Area opposite Grange Valley Avenue at 10.30am. An information leaflet may be obtained by ringing Madeleine Kelly at Groundwork Northern Ireland on Tel: 028 9074 9494.

Organised by Groundwork Northern Ireland as part of @myurbangreen, a new campaign launched by M&S and the environmental charity, the aim of the series of activities is to enlist volunteers to help maintain the local Conservation Area.

The Sixmilewater Park is owned by Newtownabbey Borough Council and the area was designated a Conservation Area many years ago which resulted in minimal maintenance and the area being closed to the public. But Conservation Areas need active management and in 2010, the council’s Park Wardens worked with people from the local community to improve access by clearing vegetation including fallen trees and building a bridge.

Madeleine Kelly Project Development Officer with Groundwork explained: “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 @myurbangreen, a campaign which aims to reconnect urban communities with their environment by being actively involved in shaping the future development, maintenance and management of their local green space.

Wendy Loughridge, Store Manager at M&S Abbeycentre said: “@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.”