Legacy4LIFE programme to develop community-based supports for natural environment

Photo Credit: Damien Eagars (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 Malcom Noonan, Francesca Loughran (Agricultural and Ponds Researcher), John Liston (Agricultural Social Researcher), Prof John Sweeney (An Taisce Board Member), Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD

The Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Mr. Malcolm Noonan TD yesterday publicly launched Legacy4LIFE, a programme developed by An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, 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, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communication.

The development of the programme was initiated by Professor John Sweeney, Emeritus Professor of Geography at Maynooth University as a direct contribution by Ireland to the new European Green 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 and impacts of current agricultural practices by reference to science-based evidence and then promoting the role of organic agriculture in delivering a robust, diverse and resilient food system in a post Covid recovery.
  • The Green Communities strand will develop templates for shaping and celebrating recognisable low carbon community plans in both urban and rural settings, taking reference from the successful Green Flag Award concept.

At the core of the programme is a focus on collaboration at both institutional level among public and private sectors organisations and within the wider 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.

Speaking at the launch, Prof. Sweeney said,

This project exemplifies the intertwined nature of the Climate and the Biodiversity emergencies. The capacity to bring communities along the journey to a decarbonised future is critical and is also a strength of civil society. An Taisce is to be commended on taking the lead in bringing this programme to life and for the vision and breadth of the final programme.

Minister Noonan said,

“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.”