ACRE – First Pocket Forest in Northern Ireland

Active Communities Restoring the Earth is involved in creating the first Pocket Forest in Northern Ireland, planted in Newry on 3 February 2022. The project was a partnership between ACRE and Barcroft Community Gardens, Newry.

What’s a Pocket Forest?

Pocket Forests are tiny biodiverse islands, usually located in urban areas, which replicate as closely as possible a naturally wooded area. Pocket forests are planted in small areas, ranging from the size of a car park space up to the size of a basketball court.

Soil preparation, including adding lots of organic material to the soil, feeding the worms and microorganisms which are essential for healthy soil, is the first step in creating these forests. A wide range of native trees and shrubs are densely planted together encouraging fast growth which quickly bear fruits, attracting birds, butterflies, bees and insects.

Pocket Forests offer an incredible opportunity to enhance the biodiversity in the local area as well as capture and store carbon.


Barcroft Gardens have partnered with Barcroft Primary School. Their 35 children who attended enthusiastically planted 300 trees, whilst learn about Pocket Forests. The site will be used for on-going education with local schools and the wider community.

Local communities

ACRE played a key role at the beginning of the project bringing the different parts together. But the project is wholly owned by Barcroft Community Gardens: they are the local community at the centre of everything.

The project could not have succeeded without the technical know-how of They are the group who have played a huge part in getting Pocket Forests planted all over the South.


As well as the Jesuits in Ireland, who gave seed funding to ACRE, this project has been generously funded by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. Their grant was the largest they have given for this kind of project. Newry, Mourne and Down District Council also contributed.


Acre was set up by Jesuits in Northern Ireland in 2020. Working out of the vision for our Sister Earth, which Pope Francis outlines in his letter Laudato ‘Si, we support and encourage positive climate projects among marginalised groups.

Barcroft Community Gardens was set up by Newry Felons, who created their own raised beds and found this a great help to their Mental Health, especially during the Covid lockdowns.

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