If you've always secretly dreamed of being a Lord or a Lady, then the "Celtic Titles" project will no doubt be of interest. The idea is to encourage people to buy a plot of woodland in Northern Ireland to participate in the preservation of its biodiversity.
Slievekirk Wood is located in Ardmore, in the west of Northern Ireland, near the city of Derry and the Slievekirk Mountain, which rises more than 300 meters above the Faughan Valley. This woodland is home to many species of trees, including oaks, birches, Scots pines and more.
Operated by a company called Highland Titles (which runs a similar initiative in Scotland), the " Celtic Titles " project is selling mini plots of woodland that are about 0.1 sqm in size. Developers are not interested in them, and that's good news for everyone else, since owning a piece of this woodland will also bag you the Irish title of nobility, Lord or Lady of Ardmore.
To get such a title, prospective Lords and Ladies have to pay the modest sum of €48 (approx. $56), which is the price of a plot of land. They will then obtain a certificate of ownership, which will also name them Lord or Lady. While there's little chance that this title will grant anyone the right to wear a crown or rule over these wooded areas, it will no doubt help them stand out in society!
The profits generated by the sale of these micro plots will be dedicated to the preservation of the estate and the protection of Slievkirk Wood and the many species that inhabit it (red squirrels, butterflies, jays, bees, bats, etc). "The woodland is a haven for birdlife, and red deer can be seen from time to time," reads the project website.
Raising public awareness of woodland conservation by directly involving the public is a method that has been gaining momentum in recent years. And it seems to be working! For example, the French association Forêt Vivante offers individuals the opportunity to buy 10-hectare plots of land in the Aravis mountain range in Haute-Savoie. These plots are then managed by a citizen forestry group, where everyone can become a co-owner and participate in the management of natural resources.
Often, the issue also has a political dimension. In 2019, for example, the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals (Aspas) in the Vercors region of France encouraged citizens to acquire plots of forest. The aim was to buy a forest estate of 500 hectares and transform it into a nature reserve. But, above all, to banish hunters and stop the industrial exploitation of the site.