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Quest to preserve Liscannor Bay

A new community group has just been established in North Clare whose aim is to preserve and protect the delicate ecosystem in Liscannor Bay.
The group, which is called BannerGleo: Liscannor Bay Association, formed in the wake of a series of high profile threats to the bay, including incidents of pollution in the water off Lahinch and Liscannor as well as the Inagh River.
The association aims to take a community-led approach to improving the management of the bay by organising projects such as voluntary beach clean-ups, but also by seeking funding from state agencies to help monitor and protect the water.
The association was recently awarded a grant by Community Foundation Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to create the first ever biodiversity action plan for the entirety Liscannor Bay.
BannerGleo aims to bring together experts, the local community and local land-owners to complete a comprehensive assessment of coastal biodiversity in the bay, and establish and important baseline for future comparisons.
“Liscannor Bay is really appreciated for its beauty and its value to local tourism, it has a lot of beauty for people from all over the country,” said chairperson of BannerGleo, Kilfenora woman, Sarah Hegarty.
“But I found that Liscannor Bay was often over looked by environmental projects, possibly because of its proximity to the Burren and its proximity to the Cliffs of Moher. I was looking at the work that people like BurrenBeo had done, and the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark and the Burren Eco-Tourism Network, they are all doing such amazing work, but it all seems to just end at Liscannor. I wanted to create something that was very much focussed on the bay.
“I think there is also a great appetite for doing things like this on a community level. Local communities are very much in tune with what is going on and want to be part of the solution. It came down to local experts and expert locals coming together and being able to share their skill together.
“Since we have formed the group we have had lots of people coming out and sharing their skills. You meet all of these people in your own locality and you realise what an incredible skillset we have in the area.”
Sarah is hopeful that the funding for the biodiversity action plan will be an important first step towards creating a vibrant, community-led future for Liscannor Bay.
“It is a great first step for the group, it’s a great kick-start. There are some highly valued ecosystems along the bay, which are monitored more than other areas, but it is about creating an overall biodiversity plan, and it being community driven is an even bigger thing,” she said.
“The Government is taking nature restoration much more seriously now, which is great to see, as funding will hopefully come for this down the road and it will be nice to have a local entity that can avail of that and has built up the knowledge needed to put it to good use and implement those actions.”
Training and education are important parts of the project, as well as instilling a sense of stewardship and pride of place. The overall aim of BannerGleo is to create a cohesive coastal community with the common goal of a healthy and sustainable bay in terms of coastal life and livelihoods.
“I am a Green School officer for an Taisce, so I see every day the value and the interest in the coast and coastal issues. Even if you look at where people choose to spend their holiday time and have fun, the coast plays a huge role in that,” said Sarah.
“People are hungry to learn more about it, whether it be seaweed, or things living in rock-pools, whatever. We have been running a number of coastal clean-ups and we should be organising another in the month of April. That is one way that local people can get involved.”
The creation of a biodiversity action plan for the bay is seen by the group as a first step, which will be followed by community led actions and improvements.
“We are hoping to enlist the expertise of a coastal and marine ecologist to come in and help guide us in making a plan for the bay,” said Sarah.
“This is about laying the groundwork and determining what exactly we have in this unique eco-system that we have in the bay.
“After than we can hopefully look deeper in to dealing with landowners and the different uses of the bay, such as agricultural land. I come from an agricultural background, I grew up on a farm in Kilfenora, and a lot of people almost criticise me for it.
“I think it is important that, as a community group, we bring together our similarities and common values, but we have to bring our differences as well and all the different backgrounds that we come from. We need a group that takes in everyone’s background.”
Anyone interested in finding out more can follow the groups Instagram at BannerGleo or email them at bannergleo@gmail.com.

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

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