Forest revival: TCV and Hughes Insurance Join Forces To Grow 70,000 Native Trees

Tree Nursery project aims to increase NI tree cover, one of the lowest in Europe at just 8%

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) has joined forces with Hughes Insurance to revive Northern Ireland’s forests with a targeted 50,000 to 77,000 native tree species. The partnership will support TCV’s Tree Nursery at the Ulster Folk Museum in Cultra, to significantly upscale its seed collection, harvesting over 250,000 native seeds per year that will be carefully grown by nursery staff and volunteers into trees of the future, helping protect and replenish biodiversity in many of Northern Ireland’s woodlands.

Funding will also support TCV on its mission to protect the genetic heritage of our Northern Ireland trees, crucial for biodiversity as these local species support microorganisms, fungi and insects, as well as providing food and shelter for small bird and mammals including our much-loved Red Squirrel.

Dianne Keys, Operations Leader at TCV Northern Ireland said: “We’re facing a huge threat to our natural heritage and native tree species. Northern Ireland’s tree cover currently sits at just 8 per cent, as one of the lowest in Europe it’s an alarming statistic.

“Preserving and restoring our woodland is vital for the health of our environment. For example, mighty oak species which is native to this region supports over 2300 species of insect, fungi, birds, and small mammals. 320 of which are only found on oak and a further 229 rarely found elsewhere.

“We thrilled to be partnering with Hughes Insurance to protect and nurture our native trees. With Hughes’ support we aim to have 50,000 to 77,000 trees leave our Tree Nursery site this year, ensuring our woodland cover is increased to protect and enrich our at-risk native ecosystems. The funding will also enhance our community engagement programme and enable our staff to connect and engage with communities through the planting of native trees and the eventual environmental benefits that this work enables.”

As part of the Tree Nursery project TCV has also developed a Protected Species Programme to protect very rare or at risk Northern Irish species including Alder Buckthorn, Ash and Juniper. The initiative aims to establish protected seed orchards which will eventually be transported to local parks and protected wild green spaces around to country.

Hughes Insurance has partnered with TCV as part of its Action for Impact initiative – a £100,000 commitment to various charities and organisations to deliver on its Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) agenda in 2023 and beyond. The initiative, specifically designed to support communities, create positive environmental impact and improve employee wellbeing, will also see Hughes’ 250 employees commit to delivering over 3,500 hours of volunteering across the province, known as Action Days.

Emma Haughian, Senior Marketing Manager at Hughes Insurance, said: “At Hughes, we firmly believe that every action counts when it comes to preserving our environment and creating a more sustainable future. Our commitment to act responsibly, put people first, and make things better is at the heart of everything we do.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with TCV to support the work being carried out at its Tree Nursery and help the journey towards reforestation in Northern Ireland. An important initiative which can our help restore our vital ecosystems, essential to native species and assist in creating enhanced green spaces for our communities to enjoy and benefit from.”

As part of wider Action for Impact activity, Hughes Insurance has also partnered with, Ulster Wildlife, Mary Peters Trust, Business in the Community and Women in Business.

To find out more on TCV’s Tree Nursery or volunteering visit tcv.org.uk/northernireland/tree-nursery/

For more information on Hughes Insurance workplace initiatives and Action for Impact visit hughesinsurance.co.uk.