Tree scheme to mark births, deaths and marriages

Oak tree in morning sunlight Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The new native trees will be either oak, rowan or crab apple sapling

A Northern Ireland council is to mark every birth, death and marriage by planting a tree in a bid to cut air pollution and improve public health.

The Life Tree project will see about 4,000 native tree saplings planted each year across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

It is thought to be the first initiative of its kind in Northern Ireland.

The project forms part of council's wider air quality improvement strategy.

'Environmental benefits'

The scheme will allow registering families to either plant a sapling at their home or alternatively, have council plant it in a local park or green area.

The scheme is led by the council in partnership with the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the North West Regional College.

Image copyright DCSDC
Image caption Every birth, death and marriage registered will be marked by the planting of a sapling

Mayor of Derry and Strabane Maolíosa McHugh said Life Tree is "a poignant means of marking and remembering the registrations of birth, deaths and marriages in our city and district."

He said it will also deliver multiple public health and environmental benefits.

"Planting trees can not only decrease air pollution but it improves both the urban and rural landscape and encourages the public to experience the outdoors and the associated health benefits so I am pleased that we are the first council in the north to introduce this scheme," he added.

Air pollution has been a concern in the north west for a number of years and last month the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs was monitoring high pollution levels in the Londonderry area.

Brendan Bonner of the Public Health Agency said reducing local pollution levels was a key aim of the project.

"Air pollution impacts on all regions, settings and age groups and while we all breath the same air, there are significant geographical differences to exposure to air pollution and it is important that we do all we can to improve and protect our air quality locally," he said.