A €20.6 million LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature project was officially launched yesterday, 13 May 2022, at Ballycroy, Co. Mayo by Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan, and Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett.
LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature primarily aims to deliver environmental and social benefits through the conservation and restoration of blanket bog habitat in northwest Ireland, working closely with the local community. The project has 35 sites covering a total of more than 250,000 hectares along the Western seaboard from south Galway to north Donegal.
The project is coordinated by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Nine other associated beneficiaries are involved in the project, including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Teagasc, Bord na Móna, Coillte, RTÉ, Fáilte Ireland, The Heritage Council, Northern and Western Regional Assembly, and Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Noonan stated: “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.”
Dr Gary Goggins of LIFE IP Wild Atlantic Nature adds: “We have been blown away with the level of support we have received from farmers and local communities in the first year of the project. Local people have really engaged with the project and have been extremely willing to get involved and put forward novel ideas for blanket bog conservation in their local areas. This sends a clear message that strong support through funding and advice is needed for projects that make sense for local people and for the environment.”