Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots MLA visited Castlewellan Forest Park to visit the newly refurbished and enhanced Bothy Yard in the arboretum.
The Minister was given a tour of the new facilities at the world famous arboretum where DAERA funding of Pound 500,000 has seen a complete refurbishment of the bothy yard. Works have included the restoration and construction of the cold frames and propagation house; gardeners shed retaining original beamwork and flooring which will provide office accommodation and volunteer space; an extension to the stove conservatory, in keeping with the historic nature of the yard, to provide interpretation of the site along with a kitchen and toilet facilities; and a platform lift to provide access from the garden to the terrace.
Minister Poots commented: "This is a world class arboretum that badly needed major investment and the local council was provided with a grant under the Rural Tourism Scheme from my Department.
"Along with funding from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council I was really pleased to see these buildings restored to their former glory and it will definitely put Castlewellan Arboretum back on the tourist map where it belongs."
Chairman of NMDDC, Cllr Michael Rice stated: "I was delighted to welcome Minister Poots to Castlewellan Forest Park. Castlewellan Forest Park is vitally important to the local community, it is rich in natural and built heritage and a tourist destination for outdoor recreation. The Council is delighted to have completed phase one of the restoration and development of the Park with funding received from DAERA and looks forward to implementing phase two funded by NLHF and Council."