THE European Commission approved a grant last week towards restoration of water quality in the Upper Blackwater in Co Cork.
The project has a total budget of €2 million, of which 47%, or €940,000, comes from the EU. The aim is to improve conditions for the kingfisher, freshwater pearl mussel, Atlantic salmon and European otter.
The project includes clearing invasive plants and overgrown bank vegetation to allow the river bed stabilise, and building nesting areas for kingfishers.
The work will be done in the Upper River Blackwater Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The grant beneficiary is IRD Duhallow based in Newmarket, Co Cork.
The European Commission also approved a grant of about €1.3m to Coillte in Co Westmeath, to support local employment over five years in drain-blocking and tree removal for raised bog restoration.
The budget for this project is €2.2m.
Irish raised bogs represent some of the finest examples of their habitat type in the world. About 50,000 hectares of reasonably intact or uncut raised bog habitat remain, of which about 21,500 hectares is regarded as being of nature conservation value and is included in Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas.
Across the EU, 210 new projects are being grant aided in the 2007-2013 LIFE+ environment programme.
Overall, they represent investment of €515m, of which the EU will provide €249.8m.
The Commission received more than 600 applications for aid from public or private bodies in the 27 EU member states.
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