The project was identified by Laois Partnership on the back of long-term activity in the county and involvement in environment, heritage, tourism and conservation projects. Indeed, both formal and informal community consultations demonstrated that many individuals and organisations had a strong interest in building their knowledge and skills in planning projects to support sustainable community development. By designing and delivering comprehensive training in biodiversity it was envisaged that individuals’ and communities’ awareness and capacity of appropriate biodiversity planning and interventions would be enhanced.
The first phase of the the year long project began in the spring of 2013. This involved a series of Biodiversity training workshops (3 in each location) which were delivered from five locations across the county – Vicarstown, Ballyroan, Ballacolla, Camross and Graiguecullen. This phase of the program culminated in a field trip to Abbeyleix Bog in July 2013.
The project resumed for a second phase in the autumn of 2013 when seven communities (Abbeyleix, Ballacolla, Cullohill, Emo, Killenard, Mountmellick and Portarlington) embarked on an intensive programme to prepare Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs) for their respective communities.
The BAPs were prepared collaboratively with each community bearing in mind best practice from other locations and also tailored to the needs of the specific location. The completed plans were presented to the participating communities at a final workshop in Ballacolla on 27th June 2014.