Nature has no boundaries with Cross-Border Biodiversity project

9 June 2011

A major new cross border biodiversity initiative, to promote wildlife and nature across the whole of the North East of Ireland, was launched, today on the shores of the beautiful Lough Neagh.

Action for Biodiversity is a three-year project that will develop and successfully deliver a regional and cross-border biodiversity framework for the East Border Region.

The framework will engage councils, businesses and communities in the biodiversity process, will raise awareness as well as producing and implementing plans for protecting priority habitats and species.

‘Action for Biodiversity’ will clearly demonstrate that a healthy, species-rich environment is also one which supports healthy communities. It will also demonstrate a clear and measurable link between a strong and vibrant economy and a protected and enhanced environment.

Ten local authority areas in the East Border Region will participate in this project. They include: Newry and Mourne, Down and Banbridge District Councils, Armagh City and District Council, Craigavon, Ards and North Down Borough Councils in Northern Ireland as well Louth, Monaghan and Meath County Councils in the Republic of Ireland.

Funded by European Union’s INTERREG IVA Cross Border Programme, Action for Biodiversity is adopting a stepwise approach to assist each local authority in the region to develop, promote and implement a practical, achievable commitment to biodiversity.

Alderman Arnold Hatch, Chairman of East Border Region, said this was an important milestone in the history of the East Border Region and welcomed the support and enthusiasm from the ten participating local authorities.

“Biodiversity is the lifeblood of our nation. It is our life support system, providing countless benefits from clean air, to clean water, flood defences and climate control to our people and all for free,” he explained.

“Through this project we will involve the people of the East Border Region in learning about the wonderful resource we have and how simple measures can protect it for generations to come”.

Three biodiversity project officers have been appointed to work with the ten local authorities. The Action for Biodiversity project sets out to overcome the inconsistency in the way biodiversity is regarded across the region. Some local authorities currently have little provision for their wildlife resources while others are forging ahead with implementing Biodiversity Action Plans.

“The impact of the border on biodiversity has not been quantified but the difference in designation and protection regimes locally and nationally has created a mismatch of treatment for many sites straddling the border. We will address this mismatch and ensure there is a consistency in biodiversity across the ten local authorities,” Alderman Hatch said.

Speaking at the launch, celebrity TV presenter and biodiversity enthusiast, Dale Treadwell said that nature knew no boundaries.

“A trout doesn’t know which side of a human border it is on. A hare will cross local authority limits in ignorance. And yet the practical protection offered to these species, the way their habitats are cared for and even the knowledge of their importance is highly dependant on where they find themselves,” he enthused.

“This worthwhile project seeks to create Ireland’s very first regional biodiversity framework. It will help to create a richer and more diverse environment, which will be highly attractive to the people and businesses of the region. The image of the region for tourists will also be enhanced,” Dale said.

Representatives from the governments in the Republic and Northern Ireland attended the launch along with councillors, TDs, MLAs, Senators, representatives from academia and environmental NGOs.

Each guest was presented with a native tree to plant and care for in their own areas. Some guests also went on guided walks and took a hand with a net, helping local school children who were pond-dipping for mini-beasts.

Pictured Above: Members of the EBR Action for Biodiversity Steering Group with EBR Chairman Alderman Arnold Hatch.

  • Monaghan
  • LCC
  • MCC
  • Newry, Mourne and Down District Council
  • Ards and North Down Borough Council
  • Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council