‘Connecting communities with peatlands’, led by Irish Rural Link and
the Community Wetlands Form, will launch on Monday, October 18, at 11.30a.m at Pollagh community centre, Co. Offaly.

The keynote address will be from Kieran Mulvey, Just Transition commissioner. Other speakers will include Eamon Dunnican, Pollagh Heritage Group and Aoife Kirk, community engagement officer/project coordinator, Community Wetlands Forum.

The project is funded by the National Just Transition Fund and seeks to provide transitioning supports to communities in the wider midlands region affected by the move from peat harvesting to more sustainable practices. The project will run for three years.

The region includes counties Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Roscommon, north Tipperary, and east Galway.

The project aims to support proactive communications with affected communities and other stakeholders in the region, establish best practice sharing networks,
and assist in developing local transition plans.

“‘Connecting communities with peatlands‘ will do just that via regional workshops and capacity-building training for community groups that wish to establish projects relating to their local peatlands,” said Aoife.

Community groups will inform the content of the workshops and training, based on their needs.

Members of the Community Wetlands Forum will act as mentors to each
other, as more established groups are linked with newer groups to exchange practical knowledge and experience.

Tips on managing wetlands and peatlands

A handbook, ‘Guidelines for communities managing local wetlands and peatlands’ will be published online to provide groups with organisational and funding information, as well as ecological information.

Capitalising on the collective knowledge, experience, and networks of both the Community Wetlands Forum and Irish Rural Link, the project sets out to lead to greater engagement and connection with peatlands by communities and result in long-term, sustainable and integrated environmental, social and economic benefits to the region, in line with the UN sustainable development goals.

All are welcome and can register on Eventbrite. Further information is available from rural link.

“We are very excited to get this project underway,” Aoife said.

“We have workshops coming up in November that will tell us what training community groups need to be able to run their own projects in relation to peatlands which will hopefully support communities in the transition from peat harvesting.

“Communities are at the centre of this project and peatlands can continue to offer economic and social benefits to communities while also being of ecological and environmental benefit.

“We welcome any community group that has an interest in engaging with their local peatland to attend the launch on October 18, and to participate in upcoming workshops,” she concluded.