17 Aug 2022

Offaly project lands funding under community peatland initiatives

Offaly project lands funding under community peatland initiatives

The entrance to Killaun Bog, outside Birr, which is currently closed to walkers. Pic: Karen O'Grady

Funding has been approved to upgrade the wooden trackway at Killaun bog looped walk, just outside Birr under the Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme.

€20,000 has been allocated to upgrade the existing wooden trackway, under the ownership of the Board of Management of St Brendan's Community School, Birr at Killaun bog, which is a popular spot with walkers and nature lovers.

As part of the same funding allocation, it was announced that Schohabog bog/Cloughjordan Community Development group was allocated €7,260 to undertake a habitat survey at Schohaboy Bog Natural Heritage Area on habitats not covered to date and to carry out an Appropriate Assessment for a proposed route way for a new visitor and amenity broadwalk.

The group was allocated €7,260 under the latest funding allocation, which was made by Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform on February 22. As part of the announcement, approval was given for grant funding of just under €230,000 to 25 local community groups and organisations for a variety of peatlands related projects across Ireland.

Announcing the funding under the Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, 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 stated that the amount of high quality applications received for 2021 was impressive and he was delighted there was such a geographic spread – with projects in 15 counties set to benefit.

He said: “The high volume and quality of applications to the Scheme shows just how much communities care about and value their local peatlands, and how much enthusiasm there is across the country for local people to work together to protect, explore and enjoy these precious habitats. These kinds of bottom-up initiatives are inspiring and I’m proud to have the opportunity to support them.”

This funding allocation – a two-fold increase on last year’s allocation to the scheme – will support various projects in local peatland areas from boardwalks, maintenance of bog trails, peatland restoration plans, information signage and way finder markers, the surveying of bog habitats and birds, promotional material and publications, oral history projects, invasive species control and peatland education programmes to nature awareness, wellness and sensory experiences.

The Minister went on to praise the important peatland work being done by communities and organisations; “I know from my own experience that hands-on local action can have enormous positive impacts - not just for nature and biodiversity, but also for people in terms of physical and mental health and wellbeing. Investments in nature deliver enormous social value, which is especially important in these challenging times.”

Projects to benefit include five in Roscommon, four in Galway, two in Westmeath and Laois and one apiece in counties Kildare, Offaly, Kerry, Clare, Cavan, Monaghan, Dublin, Carlow, Wicklow, Tipperary and Louth.

Minister Pippa Hackett welcomed the announcement this week for these projects. “Our relationship with the bog is changing from one of extraction to one of protection and it’s wonderful to see local groups in the Midlands finding a new appreciation for this fundamental part of our heritage.”

“Under the Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, the Abbeyleix Bog Project volunteers are receiving €12, 605 towards equipment and software to map 3,000 peat dams, while St. Brendan’s Community School in Offaly is to get €20,000 to upgrade the Killaun Bog looped walk.:

“The Mountrath Scout Group are receiving €2,315 to run awareness and education days at Knockacoller Bog and toward wildlife cameras and drone surveys. I applaud the community groups who have applied for this funding and I look forward to seeing the results of their efforts.”

Elsewhere, Offaly TD Barry Cowen also welcomed the news from Minister Noonan, saying that the funding announced under the Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme, which has been operating for the last number of years and supports various projects in local peatland areas.

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