Irish Rural Link and the Community Wetlands Forum will launch the ‘Connecting Communities with Peatlands’ project this morning (Monday, October 18) in Co. Offaly.

The project was awarded funding under the National Just Transition Fund.

A handbook – ‘Guidelines for Communities Managing Local Wetlands and Peatlands’ will also be published today for community groups wishing to engage with their local peatland.

The priority of the project is to provide community transitioning supports to community-led groups in the wider midlands region, which includes counties Kildare, Laois, Offaly, Longford, Westmeath, Roscommon, north Tipperary, and east Galway. 

The project aims to support community engagement with peatlands by providing capacity-building training and workshops to community groups to develop projects that are beneficial to their local areas and the environment.

The project will be launched by the Just Transition Commissioner Kieran Mulvey at an outdoor event in Pollagh Community Centre, Co. Offaly, this morning.

Peatlands ‘have something else to offer’

Aoife Kirk, project coordinator of Connecting Communities with Peatlands, said:

“Peatlands have been valued for their economic output for the last number of decades, and the communities that benefitted socially and economically are now looking at a world without industrial peat harvesting.

“But this doesn’t mean that peatlands don’t have anything to offer their communities anymore – they have something else to offer.”

Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link, added: “Just transition means that our bogs and wetlands must be seen by communities as real assets in the area and with careful planning can be developed to create local jobs as well as being places of world interest in terms of biodiversity.”