DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA has officially opened a £140,000 project at Brantry Wood, Eglish, Co Tyrone that will provide recreational space and assist in tackling isolation and improving health and well-being in rural areas.
The project was identified by Brantry Area Rural Development in partnership with Mid-Ulster District Council and is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA). It aims to promote participation in outdoor physical activities as well as encourage people to use forests and green spaces close to them.
Speaking at the opening of the new facilities, Minister Poots said: “Our forests are an outstanding and valuable natural resource. Forest Service’s Recreation and Social Use Strategy recognises that our forests offer significant opportunities to contribute to wider government objectives in tourism, rural development, sport, health and education. Forests across Northern Ireland now attract almost five million visits each year for recreation and tourism purposes. This equates to an estimated contribution of £75million annually to the economy. I want to see more sustainable projects such as this which enhance the quality of life for rural communities.”
“The project, funded through DAERA’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Programme, is a prime example of my Department’s focus on addressing important issues such as isolation, loneliness and health and well-being for rural communities. The benefits of walking in our forests to our health and well-being is well recognised by both the public and health professionals.
“The excellent new facilities here at Brantry Wood are a great example of partnership working to maximise the potential of a local resource and to deliver a product which is valued by all because of the social and recreational benefits it creates for local communities and visitors.”
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Martin Kearney attending the launch said: “The modernising investment here at Brantry, just one of a recent number of outdoor recreation capital developments delivered by Mid Ulster District Council across the district, capitalises on the natural woodland and lakeside resources in what is an area of outstanding natural beauty, replete with historical significance since the 12th Century. The improvements completed as part of this project have made a marked difference to the recreational value of Brantry Forest, and have a positive knock-on effect on the health and well-being of those who use it.”
Minister Poots concluded: “I wish all users of the Forest well. I hope they enjoy using these new facilities and availing of the opportunities these create as they experience the great outdoors.”
Notes to editors:
- The TRPSI Framework is a rural initiative led by DAERA which aims to tackle poverty and social isolation in rural areas by providing a flexible mechanism for DAERA to work in partnership with government bodies and other organisations to design and implement measures which help tackle rural poverty and social isolation. TRPSI is one of a number of complementary initiatives led by DAERA which are aimed at helping to ensure that the needs of rural communities are addressed.
- Delivery of the TRPSI initiatives has helped, on an annual basis 40,000 rural dwellers address poverty, isolation and well-being issues.
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