Lough Neagh Partnership has launched the ‘Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh’ project to conserve the Curlew. This iconic species has declined by 96% within the last ten years and the team is working with local communities to ensure it remains part of the Lough Neagh landscape. The project also aims to restore peatland habitat and wet grassland for birds, breeding waders, over wintering birds and other wildlife that live alongside the community in and around the Lough Neagh shoreline.
The project is focused on South West Lough Neagh on the area known as “Department of Education” lands and will deliver conservation of the Curlew through practical works such as restoration of its habitat and working with local landowners and farmers to support Curlew using their lands. This will be delivered alongside more community focused elements such as improving the recreation and access through the lands for locals and the collection of local histories and memories through workshops which will be delivered this summer.
Lough Neagh Partnership and partners have identified the monitoring of the breeding Curlew population in the area as being an integral part of the Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh project. Ornithologists from KRC Ecology will help increase the understanding of how the Curlew is using the area to build a positive profile for them. This work will then contribute to management plans Lough Neagh Partnership will develop to conserve the Curlew in the future.
The partnership is seeking to involve local people and communities through a series of workshops and art engagements to afford local people the opportunity to voice what they would like to happen with the lands and how they would like to be involved in this.
A summary document will be delivered in Autumn 2019 reflecting the outcome and this, and the works Lough Neagh Partnership will do with landowners and farmers through the Lough Neagh Environmental Farm Scheme, which has just opened its third tranche offering financial incentives for breeding waders and other habitat works, will help conserve Curlew and other priority species around the Lough.
Lough Neagh Partnership will represent the local community’s perspective by exploring the relationship that exists between the people and their landscape, collecting stories and memories that local people have of the Curlew and other breeding waders that use the landscape. These bogs have been part of the consciousness of the landscape for centuries and stories from locals may include memories of family days out, Corncrake calling or reflections of cutting turf. This will result in a sense of empowerment for those who have clearly expressed their wants and needs. The engagements will be delivered by the team at Quarto who have delivered previous projects exploring community connecting with nature and how this can result in a sustainable healthy landscape.
The workshops delivered by Quarto will focus on adults in the community and local children will have the opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions through working with Rosalind Lowry on art pieces.
Siobhan Thompson of Lough Neagh Partnership said: “Our Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh project aims to involve all the community in helping the Curlew to survive, their extinction is happening right here under our noses and we have the chance to do something to help them. We hope that these works alongside others ensure that Curlew remain in Ireland and our children hear their beautiful call echoing plaintively across our landscape. By working collectively we can achieve a shared vision for the area we live and work in and I hope that local people will join us in helping to conserve the Curlew and the restoration of their habitats.”
Siobhan is appealing for local people to engage and join her in the delivery of the project and should you wish to get involved or obtain further information, please email Siobhan at: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is envisaged that the Saving Nature Around Lough Neagh project will take two years to complete and it is being made possible through Lough Neagh Partnership’s Heritage Lottery funded Landscape Programme.
Further information on the Environmental Farm Scheme which is open for application until the beginning of May is available at https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/environmental-farming-scheme-efs-higher-level or by calling the EFS Advisory Service on tel 0300 200 7848.