30/04/2014 : Minister Deenihan welcomes €5 million conservation project for South Kerry
Minister Deenihan welcomes €5 million conservation project for South Kerry
Wednesday, 30th April—A new project worth over €5 million to support two local communities to help restore populations of freshwater pearl mussel in South Kerry has been agreed today (30th April) by the European Union.
Welcoming the news, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan T.D. said, “South Kerry is at Europe’s frontline in efforts to save this important species. I very much welcome the flow of funds from the European Union and Irish Authorities to underpin this collaboration with the local communities in South Kerry. I am pleased at the involvement of the South Kerry Development Partnership and the support of the local farming and forestry sectors.” The Minister added, “I trust this collaborative project will ensure that a balance can be achieved between the economic sustainability of rural families and communities and the environmental protection of threatened species.”
Ireland is regarded as a stronghold within Europe for the freshwater pearl mussel. The mussel is a key species in the ecology of many Irish rivers helping to keep their waters clean thereby producing wider benefits for other aquatic biodiversity such as fish stocks. This important ecological role makes it particularly vulnerable to changes in water quality and has therefore given it particular conservation value and specific protection under Europe’s Habitats Directive. While occurring throughout Ireland, the Caragh and Blackwater catchments in South Kerry host the two largest populations with an estimated 45% of the national resource.
In June 2013, an application was made to the EU LIFE programme to providing funding support for a collaborative project working with local communities and stakeholders in the farming and forestry sectors to deliver sustainable land use management for the conservation of the freshwater pearl mussel (or KerryLIFE). The European Union has now agreed to provide almost 50% co-funding for this €5 million project which is being led by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, South Kerry Development Partnership, Teagasc and Coillte and was ratified today at a meeting in Brussels. The project will represent a significant step in efforts to reverse the decline of the species in Ireland.
The Minister concluded by saying, “This is a collaborative approach and I would particularly like to thank my colleague, Minister Coveney, and our other partners for their support for this project.”