I'm delighted that four projects across Laois, Offaly and Westmeath have received funding through Round 1 of the Peatlands Community Engagement Scheme of the Department of Heritage.
The projects receiving funding today show great community imagination and ambition. They include a Summer Solstice Event on Tony’s Hill area of Clara Bog, in my own area of North Offaly and I hope I can attend that. I’m delighted to see that almost €50,000 of the total fund award of €160,000 is coming to the counties of Laois, Offaly and Westmeath.
The funding will support a range of activities including the Summer Solstice Event but also the creation of 10km amenity track by Cloghan Development Association, building knowledge on planting as part of the restoration of raised bog in County Laois and, for Milltownpass Bog Natural Heritage area in Westmeath, the purchase of bat, bird and owl nesting boxes, and development of a woodland trail.
The 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.
We all know we need to change how we perceive our Peatlands and I am really grateful for those Communities who are taking a leading role in driving this change. I do not underestimate how difficult it can be to change attitudes but I do know that Communities like those who were successfully funded today are vital for the preservation of these special habitats. I hope to see Community Peatlands projects benefiting under the upcoming EU Just Transition funding and will do all I can to support the delivery of these.
The projects to receive funding, under Round 1, are as follows,
Cloghan Development Association, Co. Offaly €14,030
To create 10km track that will enhance recreational and leisure facilities amenities with plans for Lough Boora Group to use new track. The aim is to allow the local community to make use of boglands in controlled and respectful way.
National Association of Regional Game Councils, Co. Laois €15,000
To engage an expert to gain advice, knowledge and expertise in the area of planting the correct seeds in the correct habitats and following this advice for the planting of seeds which will support the restoration of raised bogs.
Clara Heritage Society, Co. Offaly €2,280
To support the hosting of a Summer Solstice Event on the Tony’s Hill area of Clara Bog. The aim of the event is to bring residents from the town and surrounding areas closer to their heritage while informing them of the historical, environmental and social importance of peatlands.
Milltownpass Tidy Towns Committee, Co. Westmeath €16,105
To support this project to create opportunities for the local community to become involved and develop a sense of stewardship for Milltownpass Bog Natural Heritage area. The bog is currently being developed for a recreational woodland trail and bog boardwalk. This project intends to purchase bat, bird and owl nesting boxes, develop a woodland trail theme and provide community engagement and promotion of the bog.