Biodiversity grants given to Irish schemes helping protect corncrakes and sand martins

Some 78 new community plans are receiving a boost from the funding.

A project to protect corncrakes on the Aran Islands will benefit from the funding
A project to protect corncrakes on the Aran Islands will benefit from the funding A project to protect corncrakes on the Aran Islands will benefit from the funding (Alamy Stock Photo)

Corncrakes on the Aran Islands and sand martins in the Irish midlands are at the centre of projects set to benefit from biodiversity grants.

A partnership between philanthropy and Government is supporting 78 schemes which aim to protect endangered species and habitats.

The grants are the latest in a joint biodiversity fund, an initiative of the Community Foundation Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service which has seen 213 such action plans developed across the country through a joint investment of €1.76 million since 2019.

The latest grant round of €376,000 will see communities supported in every part of the country in both rural and urban areas.

The projects include planning for the regeneration of an 11-acre island on the River Nore at Thomastown, Kilkenny, with the engagement of an ecologist to work with and guide the local Community River Trust.

It aims to restore the natural environment on the island over the next five to 10 years protecting all wildlife for generations to come.

There is also a new biodiversity action plan for all three Aran Islands to protect the corncrake, currently a red listed bird.

Locally-based co-operative Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileain Teoranta will work with farmers and landowners to create habitats for the endangered species.

Meanwhile, the development of a specially-designed sand martin nest wall in the People’s Park, Portlaoise, aims to increase the number of birds on the River Triogue.

The sand martin is currently an amber-listed bird of conservation concern. The project will include local awareness-raising with signage and talks.

Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan described the grants as “uniquely impactful because they connect community groups with scientific expertise, helping them to better understand their local biodiversity”.

He said: “This partnership between the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Community Foundation Ireland began as a ‘seed for nature’ at the 2019 national biodiversity conference, so it’s particularly special to see it flourish and deliver so much impact all across the country, with 213 CBAPs (community biodiversity action plans) in place and more to come.”

Denise Charlton, chief executive of Community Foundation Ireland, said: “This is a pioneering partnership between Government and philanthropy which has not only supported more than 200 communities but has provided leadership in responding to the biodiversity emergency.

“While the challenge is great, what is hugely encouraging is the interest, energy, and enthusiasm of the full spectrum of local groups now taking action to protect our plants and wildlife. On behalf of our private donors, I wish each group every success in their continued efforts.”