Why do we Conserve? We conserve to show appreciation for the environment. We like it as it is; it wouldnít be that way but for care given to it in the past. It is important that future generations may also enjoy it. We also conserve to enable people to participate in the natural world either as volunteers, researchers, or paid employees; and we conserve to protect the special plants and animals that most places will have. We are lucky that Lough Allen has some very striking rarities and that they are surviving.
WAYS and MEANS of Conserving Lough Allen:
EU LIFE+ funding: The Means of paying for Conservation and Providing Employment in Lough Allen.
FAQs of LIFE: Our own quick guide to what the EU LIFE Scheme can do, and how we can apply.
In the Employment Section of this Site we have promoted the idea of 200 HighTech jobs as an appropriate target for a new Enterprise coming into the area. In the area of conservation (which is the other half of this project) there are also some possibilities for providing smaller levels of employment while also advancing all the essential Research and Discovery that needs to be undertaken on this Lake and surrounding countryside. For example, on the little known biology and distribution and protection measures needed for the Irish Ladyís Tresses and the Pollan.
We would welcome Community support in promoting these possibilities. The ideas listed below are definitely tentative and speculative but the work outlined is vital, important, and feasible ó if we can obtain both resources and funding. Also, these ideas are very much concepts and there are quite likely other ideas for the conservation of Lough Allen that are of equal or greater merit. At a time of high unemployment we would strongly urge the ideal of providing employment in an area which will lead to sustained improvement in the Lake environment and keep it as... a very special Place!
- Protecting the Irish Ladyís Tresses. If you read reasonably modern books on Botany the presence of these orchids at Lough Allen may not even be recorded. One eminent authority even says that the sole oupost for this species in Europe is the UK! But there may be up to 300 present (a higher number than shown in the Survey in 2008) in Lough Allen, which is a very significant population in World terms, and there are other significant occurrences in north west Ireland.. It is due to the vigilance of a local farmer that they may even be surviving in Lough Allen. The sheer rarity of these plants needs to be appreciated. Ireland is an European stronghold for the species. They are no longer found in England but survive in Scotland. They are found nowhere else in Europe. The species is prone to damage by cattle and horses but also seems to thrive in association with them or on the type of shore where cattle may be let to graze. High vegetation prevents them flowering as they are very late in emerging. Also, it is conceiveable that the fluctuating level of the Lake may, perversely, favour them. These plants are so unique in Europe they need to be appreciated.
The firsts thing to do is to study their distribution and protect them where they occur. This work is progressing on a voluntary basis (see Survey and list of Surveyors HERE) and hopefully 2009 will be another excellent year for them. Irish Ladyís Tresses are a totally protected plant in Ireland. It is important that local people become aware of this rare plant and seek to adopt it as something very special in their area. There is much we can all do to ensure its survival but the first thing is for the public and landowners to be aware of itís occurence and the conditions it needs to thrive.
- An area of Constant Water Level. Lough Allen is the highest lake on the Shannon system. The Shannon rises a little to the north and Lough Allen is also fed by many other streams and rivers from surrounding mountains. The Lake has been navigable for many years and this was used to export coal (Anthracite) from the area. Mining has now ceased though the Mine has become a highle successful tourist attraction, The Mining Experience. Also in the 30ís the Lake was developed as part of the Shannon Hydroelectric scheme. This involved building levťes, sluices and dredging the Shannon as it exits the lake. As a consequence the Lake has a highly variable water level depending on rain fall, electricity generation, and the operation of the Sluices.
This can be disadvantageous for many plants and animals living around the lake but, possibly, beneficial to some. Breeding Birds are badly affected as there is nowhere for them to lay their eggs where they can be sure the water is not going to rise up and flood them. Also, because of the nature of the Lake, and the conflicting demands upon it, it is not feasible to regulate the water level more tightly. Our suggestion is that a constant water level lagoon should be set up for a small part of the lake where it is possible to do so. This might attract Ducks, Grebes, Wading Birds, and other plants and animals that require a constant water level to successful breed. For its size Lough Allen probably is a bit low in populations of waterfowl and wading birds are known to be decreasing. It would be very beneficial to facilitate successful expansion of these stocks. Having stable water levels and stable marshy fringes would contribute to this. There are certain areas of the lake, mainly to the north, where such work seems potentially viable with a minimum of engineering and little undue disturbance to existing wildlife while being put in place.
Any such work will have to be fully researched and it is vital that such work should not, in trying to do good, do any harm to existing life in the Lake.
- LIFE Funding. (Go to our 20 Questions about LIFE... FAQs of LIFE.) A little known EU funding scheme may be very applicable to our purpose of getting the work done and also providing local employment for young graduates. LIFE is the EUís financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed some 2,750 projects, contributing approximately €1.35 billion to the protection of the environment. LIFE+ 2009 Call for proposals has just been launched with a deadline for submission of proposals to relevant National Authorities by the 15th September 2009. Successful projects will be announced by the Summer of 2010.
Examples of LIFE projects in north west Ireland include the Blanket Bog Restoration in Ireland project in association with Coillte and The Re-introduction of Golden Eagle into the Republic of Ireland in Association with The Golden Eagle Trust. The National Authority as far as Ireland is concerned is the Dept of Environment, Heritage, and Local Government and information on various LIFE+ schemes is available HERE. LIFE + Funding is for major projects and planning such a project will be a major undertaking. But, that said, the goal and the benefits of a Lough Allen Basin LIFE project are considerable in both human and environmental terms. Also, LIFE funding stipulates a minimum level of financing for each project. From an environmental point of view LoughAllenBasin.com is already researching possibilities but this is a huge task and we can only scratch the surface. So, much help will be needed to introduce such a scheme to this area. If you can help, please press HERE and send us an email!
More to follow on this topic in dues course.