Over €20m in funding will help conserve Ireland's "vitally important" blanket bogs.
That's according to the Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, who launched the €20.6million LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature project today (Friday May 13).
The project involves 35 sites covering a total of more than 250,000 hectares along the Western seaboard from south Galway to north Donegal.
News of the funding marks the start of National Biodiversity Week, a nationwide initiative connecting people with nature, which runs from today to May 22.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Noonan said, "I can think of no better way to kick off National Biodiversity Week than with a major €20 million blanket bog restoration project working with farmers and communities in the northwest of Ireland. This innovative project puts people, and the ecological health of the landscapes they live and work in, at the heart of its efforts. I believe that collaborative approaches like this one are the best ways to deliver real impact for nature.
"A few months ago, I visited this area and met with people involved in locally-led rhododendron control under the umbrella of this LIFE project. It’s a great example of the successes already underway. The protection of our blanket bog habitats is vitally important as we work to address our biodiversity and climate crises, and I’m confident that this project will deliver many benefits to the area – social, environmental and economic."
He was joined by his colleague, Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett.
She said, "LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature is a fantastic project driven by the local community and delivering results for nature and biodiversity. The results based element is very important because it supports farmers to really engage and deliver for their local ecosystem. I was delighted to be in my home county of Mayo today with my colleague Minister Noonan at the start of Biodiversity Week to see real community effort on biodiversity first hand."
As well as conservation work, LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature will also spearhead a number of actions to enhance wider community engagement.
This includes establishing local support groups at project sites, developing a schools education programme, and the promotion of the Natura 2000 network, among others.
Other actions will include site surveys, ecological assessments, training for nature conservation, control of invasive species, fire prevention and water management.
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