Birds, bats, bogs and trees, as well as a unique championship for hedge-laying, are all set to benefit from new biodiversity grants from philanthropic agency the Community Foundation for Ireland in association with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Eight projects which include bat surveys, counting of birds, planting thousands of new trees, protecting rare butterflies as well as promotion of hedgerows and boglands, will between them receive almost €300,000 for community-based programmes, as part of their efforts to protect endangered habitats and wildlife.
The Hedge Laying Association of Ireland has been awarded €15,000 for its all-Ireland hedge-laying competition, planned for October, in which competitors will lay eight-metre sections of native hedge over a set time period, judged by an independent expert.
BirdWatch Ireland has been awarded €83,526 which will be used for bird surveys and ‘how to’ guides in areas such as nest boxes, as well as increasing the involvement of people with disabilities, new communities and minorities as “citizen scientists”.
The Irish Peatland Conservation Council Kildare will receive €35,02 to install a raised "bog bridge" and seating at the Lodge Bog in Co Kildare, described as Ireland's first peatland habitat best-practice model for research, restoration and education resource. The funding will also be used for the monitoring of flora and fauna, including the Large Heath butterfly and curlew.
The Green Economy Foundation in Cork, which works with community groups on tree-planting projects, will receive €20,000 to plant native trees as hedgerows, community woodlands and orchards.
Leave No Trace Ireland will receive €50,000 for the restoration of Knocksink Wood Nature Reserve in Co Wicklow to repair a site which has been affected by increased recreational activities and littering.
Bat Conservation Ireland has been granted €46,446 for the development of an identification guide for the nine resident species of Irish bats and the creation of a new website for a "citizen science" project in conjunction with UCD.
The Irish Seed Savers Association is to receive €20,000 towards a training programme for 10 community gardens across Ireland to grow and save their own seed and foster greater community engagement with food supply "from seed to plate".
The Native Woodland Trust will receive €25,000 to establish and run tree and wildflower nurseries in counties Wicklow, Roscommon and Clare to produce rare trees including Scots pine, bird cherry, wild cherry, Irish whitebeam and ash and wych elm.
Chief executive of the Community Foundation for Ireland Denise Charlton said the selected projects depend on the support of communities. "They have been identified as they are both strategic and sustainable with potential for longer-term action."
It is the second year of collaboration between the philanthropic organisation and the Department of Heritage on the biodiversity grants. Minister of State Malcolm Noonan, welcoming the awards, described the chosen projects as "strategic and impactful".
He said: “I know from my own hands-on experience that local action on species conservation, habitat creation and restoration, coupled with community engagement and education, has the power to unlock transformative change for nature in Ireland.”