I have just approved the first round of grant funding of just over €160,000 to 16 local community groups and organisations for a variety of peatlands related projects across Ireland.
The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme encourages local peatland communities, local groups, local schools and individuals to conserve and revitalise fens, raised and blanket bog in Special Areas of Conservation, Natural Heritage Areas and other peatland areas. It also promotes public engagement with and awareness of our natural heritage. The focus of the scheme is on community-led projects and volunteer group, who play a vital role in helping to promote and implement peatland conservation and restoration in Ireland. The scheme is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a division of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
Funding from the 2022 Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme will support peatland conversation projects in many ways including:
- Conducting surveys to inform peatland restoration management plans;
- Developing visitor amenities, including the installation of information and anti-littering signage;
- The development and maintenance of bog walking trails;
- Public outreach, such as the production of information booklets, brochures and training manuals, awareness and education days, education programmes and hosting of seminars with expert speakers.
Projects that will benefit from this funding span across Ireland including Galway, Westmeath, Kildare, Offaly, Mayo, Kerry, Cavan, Monaghan, and Dublin.
I'm delighted to see the diverse range of initiatives put forward by such active community and volunteer groups and environmental organisations. The Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme in 2022 will be open-ended and allow for the submission of new applications this year, enabling community groups and others to proceed with projects delayed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Communities are at the heart of nature restoration, and this is particularly the case with our bogs. Time and time again we have seen groups of volunteers leading with passion and impact to restore, rehabilitate and share the wonder of these amazing habitats. That’s why schemes such as this one are so important, in that they allow the local custodians of our natural heritage to continue their work and to grow it. Anyone who’s spent time in a healthy peatland knows what peaceful and serene places they are, and what they offer in terms of species diversity, including rare species that have evolved to adapt to life in the bogs. I am delighted to be able to continue to support community organisations and others in their efforts to embrace and protect these special places.
Today’s announcement follows on from the launch of the €21m LIFE Wild Atlantic Nature project last week. This wide reaching project primarily aimed at the delivery of environmental and social benefits through the conservation and restoration of blanket bog habitat in northwest Ireland, working closely with the local community. The National Parks and Wildlife Service is undertaking an accelerated programme of peatlands conservation and restoration with numerous projects underway, which will help substantially reduce the loss of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, as the water level in the bogs return to close to their natural levels. This will ensure that this massive reserve of carbon is sealed and stored for posterity and will help keep our planet cooler.
Further details and the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme are available on the Department’s website (NPWS) at https://www.npws.ie/peatlands-and-turf-cutting/peatlands-community-engagement-scheme
Grants Awarded - Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme 2022 Round 1
Cloghan Development Association, Co. Offaly
To create 10km track that will enhance recreational and leisure facilities amenities with plans for Lough Boora Group to use new track. The aim is to allow the local community to make use of boglands in controlled and respectful way.
Parke and Crimlin Area Development Association, Co. Mayo
To support the development of a website to facilitate communications with the local groups through newsletters and promote wildlife/peatlands photo competition with upload facility and hire of minibuses for school trips, hire of ecologist for field trips with 2 schools to introduce children to peatland conservation.
Galway Telework Co-operation, Co. Galway
To support the upgrading and further development of the interpretive centre and visitor amenities on Carrownagappul Bog SAC. Update of presentation video to include all new relevant works at the site
St Kilians Heritage Trust , Co. Cavan
To support the group’s aims to further develop awareness and appreciation of the conservation of Killyconny Bog SAC. Provide opportunities for the local and wider communities to learn about raised bogs and the need to conserve them as rich environments with important eco-systems and provide educational and recreational opportunities, through the hosting of multi-disciplinary events. Funding will be utilised to make St. Kilian's Heritage Centre an all year round facility for ongoing education and engagement with schools and the community.
Milltownpass Tidy Towns Committee, Co. Westmeath
To support this project to create opportunities for the local community to become involved and develop a sense of stewardship for Milltownpass Bog Natural Heritage area. The bog is currently being developed for a recreational woodland trail and bog boardwalk. This project intends to purchase bat, bird and owl nesting boxes, develop a woodland trail theme and provide community engagement and promotion of the bog.
RE-PEAT, Amsterdam, Ireland, Denmark
To support the project for 2022 - an extension of this pilot education program which was supported under the scheme in 2021. This year the group intend to run the program in 5 primary schools across Ireland with the ambition to launch the educational program in a diversity of schools. The selected classes will be taken on a field-trip to their local peatland, guided by a local peatland expert. This year they also hope to create a professional after-video of the project.
South Kerry Development Partnership, Co. Kerry
To support the project in providing training in the appropriate management methods for invasive species in upland peatland areas.
Friends of Ardee Bog, Co. Louth
To support the ecological survey of a section of Corstown Bog. Creation of an information leaflet and educational Field Guide to as well as toolkits. They will also use the Survey to assess the feasibility of creating a public bog walk with informational signage.
National Association of Regional Game Councils, Co. Laois
To engage an expert to gain advice, knowledge and expertise in the area of planting the correct seeds in the correct habitats and following this advice for the planting of seeds which will support the restoration of raised bogs.
Knocknagoshel Tidy towns Committee, Co. Kerry
To support the purchase of benches, informational boards and anti-littering signage for the 5km circular walk area known locally as “the bog road”.
Leenane Development Association, Co. Galway
To support the proposed works which entail the installation of an interpretive board in a roadside layby in the southern part of Doolough Valley. The interpretive board will serve as an educational resource by giving a visual overview of the catchment’s ecology, with particular focus on nearby peatland/upland habitats and Freshwater Pearl Mussel. The interpretive board will also detail farming practices (including Rhododrendon control) being undertaken to protect and enhance the conservation value of the catchment, with particular regard to upland habitats.
Clara Heritage Society, Co. Offaly
To support the hosting of a Summer Solstice Event on the Tony’s Hill area of Clara Bog. The aim of the event is to bring residents from the town and surrounding areas closer to their heritage while informing them of the historical, environmental and social importance of peatlands.
River Blackwater Catachment Trust, Co. Monaghan
To support this project which is a Phase 3 contract for the removal of approximately 60 Hectares of self-seeding conifers and invasive species.
Kiltimagh Amenity Park, Co. Mayo
To support the educational elements of this group’s project to provide a community resource for Kiltimagh that educates all visitors on the surrounding natural habitat and the need to protect it. Educate people on the role peatlands will provide in carbon sequestration and on the flora and fauna commonly found in a peatland environment. A ‘how to rewet a bog’ board with contact details for all relevant agencies will be put in place. The group will identify the main bogs in the area and produce a map highlighting them. Provide information on a local re wetting project that is taking place in the area and direct people to visit it.
Knockirr bog Trustees, Co. Kildare
To run a series of educational talks and workshops about bogs with particular focus on their local bog. This would include some onsite access and walk-arounds on the local bog that the group has held in trust for the community since 1906. This talks will involve the subject areas of; Hydrology, Entomology, Botany, Ecology, Local history and heritage, Arts and literature and case studies from other community
Landmarks, Co. Dublin
Towards the purchase of materials to support an immersive peatlands installation at OPW Pearse Museum, design and develop booklet resource, develop resources into a unit of study, to pilot this unit in one primary school classroom in Dublin and develop a proposal for Dublin and Wicklow Education Centres.