The Abbeyleix Bog Project earlier this week published its 5-year Conservation Management Plan (CMP). The CMP was made possible through Heritage Council funding under its Heritage Management Plan 2013 scheme.
Dr Tim Ryle, an independent consultant ecologist, was commissioned to produce the plan.
The 108 recommendations in the CMP will guide the community-run project in realising the potential of the site in such a manner as to ultimately benefit their conservation goals and at the same enable its development as a recreational amenity as well as an educational resource.
The CMP is not only about guidelines for the protection and enhancement of the wildlife and habitat diversity. It also addresses issues such as maintenance schedules, the provision of access, establishing the site as an educational resource, as well as integrating the site and its activities in the wider local community - tidy towns, tourism, events - to name a few.
On a long term lease from Bord na Mona, the site is utilised on a daily basis by walkers and nature enthusiasts. Its appeal lies in the diversity of habitats and associated species that are known from the site - a considerable wildlife refuge on the edge of a busy rural town.
The CMP has already attracted generous support and help from a variety of institutions and bodies. The Environmental Protection Agency is sponsoring a hydrological assessment currently undertaken by Dr Shane Regan of Trinity College Dublin.
The Ecology Division of Bord na Mona has also started an ecotope survey of the raised bog