I was lucky to be able to mark International Day of Biodiversity with a really special announcement - a 2,000 hectare biodiversity restoration project in the Wicklow Mountains National Park that will be led by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The project will include measures to re-wet blanket bog and plant native trees in the deep gullies at the source of the river Dodder, with the aim increasing biodiversity on site while also providing measurable benefits in terms of increased carbon storage, reduction in soil erosion and improved water quality. On a glorious May day, myself and my colleague, Minister Eamon Ryan, trekked into the Glenasmole Valley to plant the first of the 60,000 trees, and critically these trees will be protected from grazing and browsing deer so they can begin the work of transforming this dramatic landscape, and providing a nature-based solution to flooding further down the Dodder.
The Glenasmole Valley site has been actively farmed for generations, and improvements in habitat, while increasing biodiversity on the one hand, will also offer improved grazing and shade for grazing animals on site, delivering benefits for both wildlife and livestock long into the future. While we were there we got the chance to speak to local sheep farmer, Donie Anderson, and we learned that local farmers have experience in active conservation via a recent SUAS (Sustainable Uplands Agri-environment Scheme) project.
For me it’s just fantastic to see our National Parks and Wildlife Service leading on this ambitious, innovative catchment-based biodiversity restoration project, and working closely with local farmers to deliver results. Collaboration will always be key in ensuring meaningful biodiversity action. The Glensamole catchment project will deliver huge benefits for nature, water quality, flood mitigation and carbon storage, but beyond that it has the potential to become an exemplar for other restoration and conservation projects, particularly in upland river catchments.