Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, today (19 May) announced that he has 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.
Announcing the funding, which has been operating for the last number of years, the Minister stated that he was delighted to see the diverse range of initiatives put forward by such active community and volunteer groups and environmental organisations. The Minister has also announced that 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.
The Minister added:
“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 €21 million 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.
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