September 12, 2008

Wilson Joins in Plea for 50,000 Wildlife Helpers


ENVIRONMENT Minister Sammy Wilson is backing a bid to recruit 50,000 people in Northern Ireland to help wildlife and wild places this year.

The minister joined forces with the Ulster Wildlife Trust at a special reception at Stormont yesterday to launch its Year of Action which marks the charity's 30th anniversary.

UWT is hoping to persuade at least 50,000 people, businesses and landowners to do one thing this year for local wildlife and wild places.

"It is important to celebrate the progress and achievements of the Ulster Wildlife Trust over the last 30 years. Over the course of those 30 years it has become an important champion for nature, both on our land and in our seas," Mr Wilson said.

"However, now more than ever, with increasing pressures on our beautiful countryside we need to lend our support to this most deserving charity and help protect Northern Ireland's precious wildlife for the future.

"I encourage businesses and the public to take up the Ulster Wildlife Trust's call for a year of action to make a real difference to Northern Ireland's environment and wildlife."

The Trust stressed that if it is to continue its work of boosting Northern Ireland's wildlife, landscapes and urban green spaces, local people need to get more involved and take action.

Heather Thompson, chief executive with the Trust, said: "With the increasing pressures of climate change, pollution and development on our wildlife and environment, there will certainly continue to be challenges ahead for us to face.

"We hope that by embracing a new approach to nature conservation which involves connecting up existing land to allow wildlife to adapt, and by building upon our pioneering work in environmental education and our reputation as an influential player, we will continue to go from strength to strength.

"There are so many opportunities for us to take our work forward, that our restriction is not our ambition but our resources for taking this work on.

"So, during our 30th year, we are calling on individuals, families and businesses to show their support and take responsibility for the very thing that gives us all so much pleasure," he said.

"Whether it be making space for nature where you live, joining up as a member, volunteering your time at a nearby nature reserve, going along to one of our wildlife events, or simply taking steps to minimise your ecological footprint, every action, no matter how big or small can make a huge difference."

The Trust is the largest local nature conservation organisation in Northern Ireland, managing 22 nature reserves which cover 850 hectares of land, including peatlands, wildflower-rich grasslands and ancient woodlands.

Since it was founded by a small group of volunteers in 1978, it has grown to include a membership, staff and volunteer base of more than 7,000 people.

(c) 2008 Belfast Telegraph. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.