David Ford MLA said: “It is shocking that Northern Ireland is so far behind the rest of the UK with only a 6% area of woodland cover compared to the UK average of 12%. It is even more worrying when the European average is 44%.
“There have been a lot of stories in the past couple of months regarding the felling of trees and the lack of legislation to protect them. The aim of this document is to give them proper protection. But this will not happen until the Executive supports this document and I would urge them to do so.
“I very much regret that the Environment Minister failed to strengthen Tree Protection Orders which the Assembly Environment Committee suggested as long ago as 2002. Action must be taken now.
“Having access to green spaces has been shown to be beneficial both physically and mentally, so by protecting our woodland the Executive would be helping the health of the country and improving living standards.”