Over 120 people attended a very informative workshop organised by Waterford Public Participation Network (PPN) together with Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Wexford PPNs in collaboration with the Irish Environmental Network. The workshop took place in Kilkenny Ormond Hotel on Saturday 23rd, to highlight what local people in the South East can do to combat Climate change and protect and improve water quality and biodiversity.

Voluntary groups from the South East including the Cabragh Wetlands, An Taisce, Local Authority Waters and Communities Office, Carlow Kilkenny Energy Agency, Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, the Nore Vision and Suircan attended the event to input into this conversation which comes hot on the heels of the recent national Biodiversity Conference in Dublin. 

Speakers including Senator Grace O’Sullivan, author Pádraic Fogarty, activist Ray McGrath, Davie Phillip of Cultivate, Cloughjordan eco-village and Fran Igoe, Local Authority Waters Programme provided insights and encouraged the local groups who are members of the PPNs to identify areas where the public can get proactively involved.

Some of the common themes identified included the need for greater community engagement on the ground supported by proper joined up government agency cooperation. Farmers should be rewarded for best practice and incentivised to look after nature. Similarly the wider community can get involved by simply delaying mowing of garden lawns to allow plants such as daisies and dandelions, which are important sources of pollen for bees, to flower and to plant native pollinator plants and trees. Ireland is experiencing a huge decline in our pollinator insects which could impact on food production if it continues.

Over the past 50 years there has been a 60% loss in biodiversity. Senator Grace O’Sullivan addressed the conference regarding this issue “when the base of our food chain is under threat- WE are under threat. We have to use the Sustainable Development Goals as a pathway and framework for sustainable communities. We need to use what we can in this one life to do what we can to improve the environment and use the wisdom of life to feed that change.

Our rivers and lakes are of major importance to the health of our land and communities. So how we work can improve the quality of our water sources, the life that they nourish, and the habitats that they provide for? This workshop explored initiatives that are being taken in relation to biodiversity, water quality and management, and looked at what can be done within communities to help nurture a healthy environment including rivers and lakes. 

The Public Participation Networks (PPNs) provide an opportunity for real engagement between local people and local authorities.  This conference is part of that process. PPNs were established in all local authority areas in 2014.  Membership is open to non for profit groups in the social inclusion, environmental and general community and voluntary sectors. 

The intended outcome of the event was for all attendees to leave with ideas for actions that they can implement in their community. These actions should include immediate actions that can be taken, and preferably also actions for short, medium and long term goals. So why not get involved? – for further information contact John Hawkes, Waterford PPN: jhawkes@waterfordcouncil.ie or 087 980 9985

 

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