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Shannon Tidy Towns formulates new green plan

SHANNON Tidy Towns has recently completed a biodiversity action plan to enrich the town’s public grasslands and it hopes to plant 20,000 trees over the next ten years.
Derek Clune of Shannon Tidy Towns explained how the project began.
“We have been looking at the green spaces in Shannon, there have been a lot of problems with the grass cutting contractors, but there has been a big improvement this year.
“We felt that there could be better use made of the green areas, there are around 200 acres of green areas in Shannon and there are large chunks, where all that was done was the grass was cut. We wanted to look at what better use could be made of them.”
Meetings were held with the Shannon Municipal District of the County Council and work got underway.
“We set up a biodiversity forum and out of that it was agreed that we would apply to the Heritage Council for a grant to create a plan to enhance these green areas and the Shannon Tidy Towns took the lead on that.
“We applied for the grant anyway and we were granted €6,000. We then went about getting some quote from different landscape architects and ecologists. We narrowed it down and got a company called Greenpine consultants.”
There were well-attended public consultation meetings held, along with site visits and meetings with the Council.
Around 20 sites around Shannon have been identified where things could be improved.
“The plan is to enhance the areas with more wild meadows, more tree planting, more natural amenity areas, natural play areas and amenity areas for people to come out to, with benches and maybe ponds for wildlife.”
He says that pursuing the plan can result in a reduction in the town’s carbon footprint.
“You’re reducing the times you’re cutting grass, there’ll be less grass cut and none in some areas. It’ll be reducing the carbon footprint and we hope to make Shannon a carbon neutral town”
There are plans for planting a massive amount of trees.
“Over the next five to ten years we plan to plant upwards of 20,000 trees in selected areas. People will say how can you plant 20,000 trees but when you see the amount of space we have it’s not a lot at all.”
The plan has the potential to attract visitors to the town.
“There’s huge potential for eco-tourism. We’re near the Wild Atlantic Way, on the side of the Estuary, we have probably the biggest habitat of birds nesting on the Loop Walk.
“We need benches, more signage and hopefully create one or two birdwatching posts. We also hope to create conservation grazing areas in Shannon, designated sites of maybe three or four areas and instead of them being cut, cattle would be allowed in for three to four months to graze it. “That’s something that’s happening a lot now in towns now with biodiversity plans. You could have viewing areas and bring children down.”
He says there is huge scope for the development of natural playgrounds around Shannon, which would offer something a bit different to the existing bespoke ones.
Derek says it is a great time to launch a plan such as this one.
“There are a lot of funding opportunities for a plan like this at the moment, with climate change things like this are prioritised for funding, we’re hoping that in the next three to five years we’ll have the whole thing implemented.”

by Owen Ryan

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