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Tree-mendous things happening at Lochshore

Posted on 2 Feb 2023

An ambitious woodland creation scheme is underway at one of North Ayrshire’s newest and biggest regeneration projects.

Preparation groundworks kicked off this month for the planting of 12 hectares of new woodland at Lochshore, Kilbirnie.

The woodland is located at the north of the site and is a key phase 1 project of the Lochshore Masterplan.

It’s the latest milestone for the project – being delivered by North Ayrshire with support from a range of partners – after the new £4.2 million Lochshore Park Hub was officially opened in September.

The woodland will include over 17,000 new trees, with a mixture of native species selected for their suitability to the ground conditions.

This will include an area of community woodland which will be planted and managed by the community on an ongoing basis. This will be supported by Rebecca Ramage, the Conservation Volunteers’ site-based Community Engagement Officer.

It is part of the Council’s drive to plant 108,000 trees in their bid to be carbon-neutral by 2030.

Progress continues in North Ayrshire Council’s drive to cut carbon emissions as part of its commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Since 2005, area-wide emissions have reduced in North Ayrshire by 49 per cent while the Council’s own emissions have plummeted by 68 per cent.

Grant funding of £90,612 for delivery of new woodland at Lochshore has been secured from Scottish Forestry and will be matched with additional funding of £54,000 from the Council’s Investment Fund. A further Scottish Forestry grant of £17,625 has been awarded to support the maintenance of the woodland for the first five years.

This new woodland scheme, which forms part of the Central Scotland Green Network area, has been designed and project managed for the Council by charity Green Action Trust with contractor Scottish Woodlands carrying out the initial ground preparation works.

Councillor Tony Gurney, Cabinet Member for Economy and Climate Change, said: “The increase in trees will help combat climate change as trees absorb substantial amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.

“But the planting of trees on this scale has other wider benefits such as employment and training opportunities, physical activity opportunities, improved biodiversity and opportunities for the community to get involved.

“The development at Lochshore is really now taking shape and we look forward to even more happening in the coming months. It is another example of the community, Council and partners working together to develop something that can enrich lives and make a difference.”

Other proposals for the park include natural play areas and activity zones, wild camping area, festival and events space, heritage interpretation, a community garden, new woodland and wetland habitats, facilities for dog walkers, new visitor access points and car parking.

North Ayrshire Council is currently exploring funding opportunities to enable the delivery of a second phase of development. Unfortunately the application recently submitted to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund Round 2 was unsuccessful and alternative sources of funding are being investigated.

When delivered, the second phase would include exciting new large-scale play features - designed to celebrate the unique history and industrial heritage of Lochshore and the Garnock Valley, the northern access, event space, community garden, adventure sports facilities, new leisure/active travel routes around the site and much more.

Lochshore will also benefit from marketing as a key attraction within the Clyde

Muirshiel Regional Park and act as a destination hub for The Coig, allowing Lochshore to benefit from partnership promotion.