I have just launched Legacy4LIFE, a programme developed by An Taisce, the Irish National Trust, to develop community based supports for Ireland’s natural environment with a focus 󠅲on ecosystem 󠅲resilience and biodiversity enhancement.
The €0.5m programme is funded by the EULIFE programme - the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action - alongside the European Climate Foundation, my Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communication.
The development of the programme was initiated by Prof John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Maynooth University, as a direct contribution by Ireland to the European New Deal approved in 2020.
The Legacy4LIFE programme comprises three distinct strands - Pond Diversity, Advancing "Farm to Fork", and Green Communities
· The Pond Diversity project will look to build Irish capacity and expertise in pond creation, management and conservation and to disseminate much needed information on the value of ponds for biodiversity, water quality and climate mitigation, in addition to public amenity/blue space.
· Advancing "Farm to Fork" will seek to educate both producers and consumers in Ireland on the opportunities offered by the Farm to Fork alternatives to current intensification based food production methods. It will centre on clarifying cost of current agricultural practices by reference to science based evidence and then promoting the importance of an alternative robust, diverse and resilient food system in a post COVID recovery.
· The Green Communities strand will look to develop templates for shaping and celebrating recognisable low carbon areas in both urban and rural settings, taking reference from the successful Green Flag concept.
At the core of the programme is a focus on collaboration at both institutional level among public and private sectors organisations and also among the community at large, where harnessing bottom-up engagement and lateral knowledge transfer will be instrumental in creating change- a key target outcome in each of the three strands.
It’s great to see An Taisce progressing these wonderful projects, led by such enthusiastic and expert teams. I’m particularly pleased that the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department was able to support the ponds initiative. Whether large or small, rural or urban, ponds can be surprisingly rich and biodiverse habitats that benefit a range of freshwater species. They’re also enormously fun to create and observe. I hope this project encourages people across Ireland to make space for nature in their gardens, communities, farms, and in the wider public realm.
The An Taisce EU LIFE Project Team
(L-R): Robert Moss (Green Communities Project Lead), Rob Gandola (Pond Development Officer), Ellen O'Hora (Agricultural Social Researcher), Aoife O'Rourke (Pond Development Officer), Minister, Francesca Loughran (Agricultural and Ponds Researcher), John Liston (Agricultural Social Researcher), Prof John Sweeney (An Taisce Board Member), Deputy Ó Cathasaigh