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27 Sept 2022

New school woodlands among Laois biodiversity projects awarded €63,000

New school woodlands among Laois biodiversity projects awarded €63,000

New school woodlands among Laois biodiversity projects awarded €63,000

Three Laois schools in Portlaoise will be planting their own little woodlands soon thanks to sharing in grants totalling €63,000 awarded to the county for a range of biodiversity projects.

The Holy Family campus, Scoil Bhride and Summerhill Campus as well as Laois Education Centre have been awarded €17,000 between them for An Choill Beag (little woodland) projects.

Each campus will received 200 native Irish trees, planted in small, dense woodland habitats to form Outdoor Classrooms.

Suzanne Dempsey Environmental Awareness Officer at Laois County Council is leading the delivery of the An Choill Bheag project in Portlaoise with the Environmental Education unit of An Taisce. 

"The entire process involves student participation and presents a huge learning opportunity for students and leaves the legacy of a wonderful teaching resource for the school and place of tranquillity to enjoy nature. The entire project is managed by LEAF in An Taisce and I am really impressed by the education resources and supports that they have developed as well as their professionalism and knowledge in planning and planting the Choill Beag on site," she told the Leinster Express/Laois Live.

"The sites selected for this project include Summerhill Campus (Portlaoise Educate Together, Marybourgh NS and Gaelscoil Portlaoise), Holy Family Campus, Scoil Bhride NS and Laois Education Centre which is a teacher training facility. LEAF and Laois County Council had an introductory meet with the schools last week to discuss site selection.  This initiative supports the objectives of the Portlaoise Low Carbon Town Project and is being co-funded by Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage through the Local Biodiversity Action Fund and Laois County Council," Ms Dempsey said.

Part of the Portlaoise Low Carbon Town actions, An Choill Beag in Primary Schools will also add a woodland to Laois Education Centre on the Block Road in Portlaoise, as an educational resource for teachers with bespoke signage as part of new a Biodiversity Demonstration site.

In all Laois won over €63,000 for four projects.

Half of it, €31,450 will pay for field studies of precious biodiverse Laois Wetlands. A desk study of the wetlands in Laois was carried out in 2021 with the assistance of the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) by Wetland Surveys Ireland. Phase two is a selected field study in 2022, with 30 sites being studied in detail on the ground.

There is €4,250 granted to pay for a Radio Awareness campaign on All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, alongside Westmeath and Offaly County Councils and support Birdwatch Ireland podcast series "In Your Nature’, presented by Laois ornithologist Ricky Whelan and Niall Hatch, both of BirdWatch Ireland. 

A medieval Laois round tower has won over €10,000 to enhance its biodiversity. Timahoe Monastic Site will benefit to the tune of €10,998. 

In all the Department of Heriage announced €1.4 million for 128 community projects across all 31 local authorities.  All support the implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan, the new draft of which is currently out for public consultation.

Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, announced the money, from the Local Biodiversity Action Fund (LBAF).

Since it was launched in 2018, a total of almost €4m has been granted to local authorities through the LBAF to carry out projects in support of the National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021.

“We know that communities are at the heart of biodiversity action and that’s why I’m so thrilled to see this fund continue to grow and increase its impact all across the country,” said Minister Noonan.

“This year, we’ve funded 128 projects across all 31 Local Authorities – this will have real, tangible impact for nature and it couldn’t come at a more crucial time. What’s more, the successful projects are all contributing to the implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan (NBAP) and helping to advance our shared vision for nature. The new NBAP is currently out for public consultation, so it’s a great opportunity for people to have their say and help shape the future for biodiversity in Ireland.”

Engagement with communities and local authorities is said to be crucial to the implementation of the National Biodiversity Action Plan.  Projects aided include invasive alien species control, dune restoration, wetland surveys and biodiversity awareness and training.

The public consultation for Ireland’s 4th National Biodiversity Action Plan launched on September 1st and submissions are invited through www.gov.ie/biodiversityplan.  The public consultation will close on November 9th and the 4th NBAP will be published in early 2023.

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