Woodland management at Minnowburn

Coppiced Beech Trees at Coombe Hill

Much of the woodland at Minnowburn today consists of Larch, Scots Pine and Beech mixtures established between the mid 1960s and mid 1980s. The intention at the time of planting appears to have been to remove the conifers eventually resulting in a final crop of beech trees.

The beeches at Minnowburn
The beeches at Minnowburn
The beeches at Minnowburn

A rare stand of trees

The original name of the property, 'Minnowburn Beeches’ relates to a stand of beech trees located next to the Ballylesson Road, which is the one pure area of mature beech trees on the property. Pockets of beech are regenerating under the canopy.
A walk through a beech woodland reveals its unique character - the smooth, steel grey bark contrasted with the crisp leaves and beech nut husks underfoot and a carpet of bluebells in the spring. Such stands consisting solely of beech are rare in Northern Ireland, so part of our aim is to preserve and build on what we have.
It has recently been reported that Richard Saint Barbe Baker, one of the earliest visionary environmentalists, famous for helping save the great redwoods on the west coast of the USA as well as countless other great deeds in the name of tree preservation, planted some the of the Japanese larch within the compartment next to the Edenderry Road.

Growing Beeches

More recently we have been establishing native mixed woodland on the property and hope to continue to use local provenance trees from the Forest of Belfast as their planting stock. An extra 11 hectares of native woodland has very recently been planted with the help of community groups, local residents and the Belfast Naturalist Field Club. Thinning of the woodlands is ongoing. We are removing most of the Japanese larch to make more space for the beech and also to shed some extra light onto the woodland floor to aid plant diversity.

Come and see for yourself

Follow our woodland walk through the developing beeches on Terrace Hill to the new plantation beside the Edenderry Road and see the work for yourself or even volunteer and get involved in creating and managing the next generation of our woods.

Managing different ages of woodland

At Minnowburn we love our trees and want to keep them healthy and well looked after. When they are diseased or dying, they need removed to make room for younger and healthier trees. Each winter we carry out a programme of woodland thinning on the younger plantations, leaving the dead wood as habitat for insects and small mammals.

Tree surveys

The safety of visitors and our trees is paramount, so all our trees that border roads and pathways need to be surveyed, usually every 2 years but as often as 6 months for trees categorised as 'high risk'.

Weather damage

Even with trees surveyed for safety, the weather takes its toll and at least a couple of times a year you might see us out doing 'emergency' tree work when a tree has fallen or dropped a large branch.