Thursday, 12 December 2019

Questions (26)

Peter Burke


26. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details of support for biodiversity projects in counties Longford and Westmeath. [51896/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

My Department is responsible for developing and publishing Ireland's National Biodiversity Action Plan. The most recent Plan (Ireland's 3rd) was published in October 2017 and includes a number of actions aimed at assisting local authorities throughout the country in their efforts to protect and conserve biodiversity in their areas. Local authorities undertake much valuable work in this sphere and several have produced local Biodiversity Action Plans which are an important element in the overall approach to halting biodiversity loss.

In support of the work carried out by local authorities, a pilot grant scheme was introduced in 2018 to assist local authority led biodiversity, with funding for this scheme doubled in 2019. Westmeath County Council and Longford County Council received funding under this scheme in support of a number of initiatives during the last year, such as the Westmeath Wetlands Survey, Crayfish plague awareness and biosecurity training, pollinator infomercials and the production of a Habitat Management Plan for council-owned land around Lough Ennell in Westmeath. In County Longford, funding was received for thee Pallas Pollinator Project, the County Longford Public Biodiversity Awareness Project 2019 and the North Longford Native Tree Nursery.

My Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service are managing ‘The Living Bog’ project, which is co-funded under the EU LIFE 2014-2020 programme. Garriskil Bog, County Westmeath and Ardagullion Bog, County Longford (both Special Areas of Conservation) are two of 12 bogs that are part of this restoration programme. Whilst most of the restoration works are complete at Garriskil Bog and Ardagullion Bog, the project is continuing to carry out ecological and hydrological monitoring as well as ongoing engagement with local stakeholders.

Cloncrow Bog in Westmeath is part of CARE-Peat, an EU-funded Interreg restoration project of c.25ha of state-owned bog that was previously operated as a commercial bog moss operation. My Department and members of the project team are working closely with members of ETHOS, a local community group in Tyrellspass, with restoration works due to start in 2020.

As part of the Seeds for Nature campaign launched at the 2019 National Biodiversity Conference, The Community Foundation for Ireland established a fund to engage ecologists to develop Community Biodiversity Action Plans. Grants from this fund support community groups across all 26 counties, including Longford and Westmeath, who wish to carry out ecological studies in their local areas with a view to developing a Community Biodiversity Plan with the support of a qualified Ecologist.

Question No. 27 answered with Question No. 18.