The European Commission today approved grants to restore raised bogs in County Westmeath and to improve water quality in the Special Conservation Area river, the Upper Blackwater in County Cork. The grants will be paid to Coillte in Westmeath and ‘Integrated Resource Development’ in Cork.
Ireland’s raised bogs represent some of the finest examples of their habitat type in the world and are regarded as highly important. The Westmeath grant (Eur2.2 million budget of which 60% is from the EU) will support local employment over five years involving drain-blocking and tree removal and builds on Coillte’s previous work in this area.
The Cork project has a total budget of Eur2 million of which 47% is from the EU. The work on the river will improve conditions for the kingfisher, freshwater pearl mussel, Atlantic salmon and European otter. There will be employment clearing invasive plants and overgrown bank vegetation to allow the river bed to stabilise. There will also be nesting areas built for kingfishers and an online ‘schools species recording project’, amongst other activities.
“The LIFE+ programme continues to fund high quality, innovative projects with a high level of added value for the EU. I believe that these new projects will not only make a significant contribution to nature conservation and to improving the environment, they will also help raise awareness across Europe of the key environmental challenges facing us, notably biodiversity loss, water scarcity and climate change,” says Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik.
In all, there will be 210 new projects under the third call for the LIFE+ programme (2007-2013), the European fund for the environment. The projects are from across the EU and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, environmental policy, and information and communication. Overall, they represent a total investment of Eur515 million, of which the EU will provide Eur249.8 million.