Galway County Council Announces Appointment of First-Ever Biodiversity Officer for the County
Galway County Council Announces Appointment of First-Ever Biodiversity Officer for the County and welcomes the allocation of funding of €105,000 for initiatives in the county.
1st June 2023
Galway County Council is delighted to announce the appointment of its first-ever Biodiversity Officer, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at preserving and enhancing the natural heritage of the county.
Galway County Council’s newly appointed Biodiversity Officer, Ms. Rosina Joyce, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. She is a committed environmentalist and has worked in the area of environmental enforcement and biodiversity project management, throughout the county, for over 15 years. This experience has given her an excellent understanding of the challenges and opportunities in creating awareness, managing and protecting biodiversity in County Galway. In her new role, Ms. Joyce will collaborate closely with local communities, environmental organisations and government agencies to develop and implement strategies for biodiversity conservation.
This new role is part of a programme in which all County and City Councils appoint Biodiversity Officers. The programme is being delivered by the Heritage Council and the County and City Management Association (CCMA) with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Chairperson of The Heritage Council, Dr Martina Moloney, said:
“The Heritage Council is pleased to be partnering with the County and City Management Association (CCMA), to deliver this programme with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Through the appointment of these biodiversity officers, we are prioritising a community-based approach to biodiversity and habitat restoration. The blend of local knowledge and evidence-based science has been very effective in the design and delivery of local heritage plans, and will ensure that local action for biodiversity will focus on the drivers of biodiversity loss, local priority species and habitats, and policies and actions at local level to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.”
Galway County Council’s Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Michael “Moegie” Maher expressed his delight on the recent appointment:
“We understand that protecting and enhancing our natural heritage has become a key issue and that we all need to work together to safeguard its future. We are very happy to see Rosina Joyce appointed in this new role and I look forward to seeing her connect and empower our local community groups in raising awareness and protecting our nature and wildlife.”
Welcoming the announcement, Mr. Liam Conneally, Chief Executive of Galway County Council said:
“The appointment of a Biodiversity Officer at Galway County Council signifies a milestone in the local authority’s’ commitment to our local biodiversity and Ms. Joyce will support our organisation in delivering positive action for nature, throughout the county.”
Michael Owens, Director of Service, Planning, Sustainable Development and Corporate Services, Galway County Council stated:
“Galway County Council’s core value is to protect and enhance the unique character of County Galway. Biodiversity is key to this vision and by having a dedicated Biodiversity Officer within the Planning Department, the Council is better placed to face the inevitable challenges in relation to Biodiversity and Climate.”
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has granted funding of 104,555 to Galway County Council for eleven biodiversity projects under the 2023 Local Biodiversity Action Fund.
Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher, Cathaoirleach of the County of Galway welcomed the funding stating that:
“Galway County Council has a very important role to play with regards to addressing the biodiversity emergency. This funding, coupled with funding from Galway County Council, will assist in creating a greater awareness, knowledge and pride in our local biodiversity; while at the same time help in addressing biodiversity loss and tackling invasive alien species.”
The eleven project that have received funding, range from raising awareness and knowledge initiatives, to data collection of biodiversity resources in the county, and community led action to tackle invasive alien species.
Working with Nature 2023 is a multi-faceted project which educates and creates awareness around the importance of our native wildflower species, presenting alternatives to pesticides and provides guidance on sustainable biodiversity planting for communities in Co. Galway.
The aim of the I-WeBS project is to identify, explore and implement novel ways to recruit volunteers and support the counter volunteer network around Galway Bay. This is a collaborative project with the Biodiversity Office of Galway City Council and BirdWatch Ireland.
The Connemara Blue Dot project aims to raise awareness, protect and improve our pristine waters so that the benefits to biodiversity, our health and well-being, our heritage and the climate can be enjoyed by current and future generations.
A new revised Barn Owl booklet, which will be developed in partnership with BirdWatch Ireland, will detail the most recent and engaging ecological information specific to Ireland, which will be a culmination of fifteen years of extensive research on the species.
The Connemara Bog Natural Heritage Awareness Programme 2023 proposes to produce a video, podcast, poster and StoryMap as part of the heritage awareness initiative for Roundstone Bog. It seeks to highlight the bird species present on the site and their symbiotic relationship with the habitats and species contained therein. These outputs will be used to increase awareness and appreciation of the biodiversity value of our blanket bogs to a local and national audience and to enhance engagement among local communities with these sites.
Liam Conneally, Chief Executive of Galway County Council stated:
“This funding is critical for assisting in the delivery of transformative changes that are needed to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services at the local level.” He also added “the Local Biodiversity Action Fund allows Galway County Council to carry out valuable and effective biodiversity projects throughout the county that helps realise actions that have been set out in “Galway County Heritage and Biodiversity Plan.”
Michael Owens, Director of Services, Planning, Sustainable Development and Corporate Services, commented:
“The projects that have received funding will assist in collecting and collating essential biodiversity data such as the extent of invasive species in the county and the audits of wetlands. Projects such as the Connemara Blue Dot, Working with Nature, Galway Bay I-WeBS Project, Connemara Bog Natural Heritage Awareness Programme 2023 and the Barn Owl Booklet will increase awareness and knowledge of very important biodiversity assets in the county; while the Forum Connemara Invasive Alien Species (Conamara) Project Officer will support a community-led response to dealing with invasive species in North Conamara.”
As part of the North-East Galway Wetlands Audit it is proposed to survey 5 bog sites, 5 fen sites and 5 turloughs sites of high conservation importance. While five invasive alien plant species have been selected as the targets for control works. Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), Giant rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria), Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), Bohemian knotweed (Reynoutria x bohemica) and Himalayan knotweed (Koenigia polystachya). In addition to this, monitoring the Quagga mussel (Dreissena rostriformis bugensis) invasion in the River Shannon will take place and it will inform their spread, ecology, impact and management. Monitoring the population of the Alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) in the county will also take place.
Galway County Council looks forward to working with our communities and various stakeholders in the delivery of these very important biodiversity initiatives.
Galway County Council’s newly appointed Biodiversity Officer, Rosina Joyce.
Wildflower Workshop with Kay Synott and Jenny Beale at Brigit’s Garden during National Biodiversity Week 2023.
Sustainable Gardening Workshop in Loughrea with Aoife Munn during National Biodiversity Week 2023.