Recently IRD Duhallow were invited to present at an international meeting on biodiversity and LEADER and showcase work carried out to help biodiversity in Duhallow. We were delighted to be able to facilitate and provide examples where the LIFE project has contributed at a practical level to the furthering of biodiversity in Duhallow but working closely with our colleagues in IRD Duhallow.

 The environment is at the very heart of what IRD Duhallow is all about and is factored into all of our projects, some of which are specifically aimed at enhancing the environment. Biodiversity or "the diversity of all living things" is to the core of this environmental work and IRD Duhallow is promoting a range of projects through the EU LEADER programme in addition to the EU LIFE project, RSS, TUS, volunteer work and other initiatives. A list of some of these projects were presented by Katie Crowley and Nuala Riordan, in Vienna to the "Biodiversity and LEADER" conference on April 3rd last. Focus was given to work inspired by the LIFE project,  illustrating how different EU and Irish funding streams can be used to maximise the benefits to biodiversity and rural communities. Ultimately the longer term objective of people and nature living in harmony can be best achieved through the capacity and learning gained through all of these projects. As innovation and practical demonstration is at the heart of LIFE projects, it is heartening to see these projects deliver on the ground. A good example of this is work carried out following Action 3 of the LIFE project. Action 3 entails the  preparation of a " Habitat Development Plan for tributaries of the Upper Blackwater", and has informed biodiversity work and river restoration on the River Dalua and a tributary.  Subsequent to the identification of a degraded stretch along the Rampart River, a restoration plan was drawn up which would compliment the development of the pitch and putt course at the James O'Keeffe Institute in Newmarket. A part of the landscaping work it was possible to restore a section of this degraded stream, which holds both Atlantic salmon and brown trout. 

The pitch and putt course in Newmarket, is located on a gently sloping hill, bordered by a non-native plantation coniferous forest and a stream (Rampart Stream). This stream was in a severely degraded condition prior to the project initiation, due to historic drainage works to facilitate the adjacent forestry development. A  biodiversity plan was drawn up which included the protection and enhancement of biodiversity associated with the site. A “treatment train” of wetlands were constructed to intercept potential nutrient runoff from the new pitch and putt course and to provide habitat for dragonflies and amphibians. The stream was restored by creating a meander, reprofiling stream banks, importation of spawning gravel for salmon and trout, placement of weirs for oxygenation and placement of boulders for fish to hide under. Adult salmon and trout spawned in the site three months after restoration. The work also provides for a greater flood prone area to accommodate flooding, by increasing channel capacity and therefore this too should bring greater benefits all round. All of this work was carried out in consultation with Inland Fisheries Ireland and a preworks survey was carried out by fisheries for monitoring purpose.

A list of other projects discussed in Vienna included the Duhallow Angling Centre of Excellence, Angling restoration projects, Raptor Project, Hedgerow management, Soil testing, Supporting small family farms, Grow Your Own, Duhallow Beekeepers, Walking and cycling routes, Village enhancement, Genealogy based tourism, Heritage management and Culture revival and appreciation. 

Because of its position within the community IRD Duhallow is in a position to identify many of the issues on the ground affecting biodiversity, and through monitoring of these projects, it can offer solutions as well as highlight problems requiring redress. 

It is great to see results already happening on the ground as a result of the LIFE project and we would like to thank our colleagues in IRD Duhallow for taking on board our recommendations and working with the project. 

The Duhallow LIFE project is part funded under the LIFE financial instrument of the EU Commission

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