Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots, has announced that 28 organisations are set to benefit from £4 million to help deliver key environmental projects.

The minister said that thanks to the Environment Fund, 47 projects including nature-rich trails, coastline protection and restoration of peatlands will now go ahead.

He made the announcement during a visit to Mourne Park, which was recently purchased by the Woodland Trust with support from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA’s) Environment Fund (EF).

“Visiting Mourne Park was incredible and a great chance to see how our Environment Fund has helped in the restoration of this special place of ancient woodland,” said Minister Poots.

“It is being managed in a way that will safeguard this special landscape that includes the flora, fauna and the views into and out from this gem of a site.

“I believe this £4 million announcement will deliver similar benefits by supporting green growth and proactively delivering opportunities so that people can spend time enjoying nature which benefits mental health and well-being.

“It brings the total amount of funding DAERA has invested this year to £7 million alone in these environmental partnerships between the community, government and businesses.

“It shows that collectively we are doing all that we can to actively protect and enhance our varied countryside and wildlife,” he added.

Minister Poots said applications for the new EF funding were received from a range of not-for-profit organisations and councils to help with nature recovery and to help connect people with nature.

“Projects range from the creation of nature-rich trails and walkways to outdoor recreation facilities which benefit our communities, to protection of our coastline and the restoration of peatlands and habitats,” he said.

“This collective working is exemplified by the Mourne Wildfire Recovery Project which I have also visited to see the excellent collective work being done.

“I want to thank the National Trust for its unwavering commitment to restore the habitat on the Mournes following last year’s devastating wildfires.

“There is more work required however the message is prevention is better than cure so please over the holidays continue to enjoy the outdoors but be responsible in how you do it.”