A 67-year-old landowner from County Armagh is preparing to run his first ever marathon this year after being inspired by a woodland which was planted on his land three years ago.
Trevor Knipe, of Ballymartrim Wood, planted over five hectares of native Irish trees, which he has since opened up to the public for walking and fundraising events.
Mr Knipe, who is a grandfather, worked with woodland consultant Carolyn Trimble of IndiWoods. After securing the Forest Expansion Scheme grant, the woodland was planted, he took up running, takes part in the local Armagh Parkrun every Saturday, has done a half marathon and is now using his woodland to train for the Dublin Marathon.
Mr Knipe said the land he owned was too steep and wet for farming so he decided to seek the help of IndiWoods.
He said: “I always wanted to do something with this land and I had seen other woodlands planted by Carolyn Trimble. She came and spoke to me about the grant, she went through the process for me and now I have the most beautiful woodland which covers just over five hectares.
“There are Rowan, Oaks, Birch, Alder, Hazelnut, Crab Apple, Scott’s Pine, Cherry trees and more. I have wildflowers for the first time this year so that’s something I will continue with next year.
“I have opened the woodland for fundraising events and a lot of runners said to me it would be a great place to have a run. Last week we held a 2.5km walk and a 5km run here to raise money for the Friends of the Cancer Centre and also the Armagh Parkrun Defibrillator.
“I lost a cousin of mine to cancer back in June so that’s why I am running the Dublin Marathon on October 28. But the woodland has inspired me because it’s so beautiful, it’s improving the countryside, it’s something I can do to give back to the environment and leave a legacy. My daughter will be running the marathon with me. I am out running four days per week at the minute, so, it’s good for my health as well.
“The young cubs from Armagh come out and use the woodland and have built their very own Bug Hotel here, people use it to walk their dogs and we hold fundraisers. I have seen a big increase in wildlife in the area. We have pheasants, pigeons, buzzards, small birds, ladybirds and lots of fungi growing in the winter. It’s a haven and is so peaceful. I was cycling before I took up running so I was always fit enough but now I am on a mission with running.”
Carolyn Trimble of IndiWoods said: “Ballymartrim Wood is a fine example of what trees can do. The Forest Expansion Scheme is a fantastic scheme. The August deadline has passed and the second and final deadline for 2018 is September 28. Applications must be submitted prior to these dates or landowners will not be able to avail of the scheme.
“Last year I celebrated planting our one millionth tree in Northern Ireland so our aim is to continue building on that. All you need is a minimum of five hectares, the desire to have a 100 per cent funded grant, which also attracts an annual income of up to £425 per hectare for 10 years, and, can be in addition to Single Farm Payments if you’re eligible. You don’t have to be a farmer to apply.
“It’s amazing to hear Trevor is running the Dublin Marathon. He is so inspirational. Everyone who gets a woodland planted is inspired to do something. It’s fantastic.”
For further information on the Forest Expansion Scheme contact Carolyn on 028 3752 7100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org