Mulranney Environmental Group Habitat Mapping and Biodiversity Action Plan
The Habitat Mapping and Biodiversity Action Plan project sets out to map 1,750 hectares, taking in the Nephin Mountain range and the Corraun peninsula. The landscape ranges from uplands to coastal areas, mature woodlands and wetlands. The Mulranney Environmental Group is hoping that the area will become a place for high nature value farming.
The Mulranney Environmental Group in County Mayo has been promoting awareness and enjoyment of the local environment in the last ten years. And the innovative community-led Futures Plan which started in 2008, has given impetus to the current Habitat Mapping and Biodiversity Action Plan, which is supported by the Heritage Council of Ireland.
“We formed the Mulranney Environmental Group (MEG) to look at outdoor activities and the broad environment of the whole area,” explains Sean Carolan, chairman of the MEG. Mulranney’s former Garda barracks, now called the Old Irish Goat centre is an environmental information centre open daily from June to mid-September. Visitors to the area can get maps for the 6km Mulranney Loop Walk and find out about events during National Heritage Week.
The Habitat Mapping and Biodiversity Action Plan is an ambitious project which sets out to map 1,750 hectares taking in the Nephin Mountain range and the Corraun peninsula. The landscape ranges from uplands to coastal areas, mature woodlands and wetlands. “We have discovered some new interesting sites during the mapping which started in 2008,” says Carolan. These include the machair, a special coastal habitat only found along the West coast of Ireland and Scotland.
Tackling invasive species such as rhododendron, gunnera and Japanese knotweed will be one of the next tasks for the environmental group. There are three different species of the hugely invasive Japanese knotweed in the area. “The local authorities and the National Roads Authority [now Transport Infrastructure Ireland] are trying to control invasive species along the road verges but we’re currently aiming to get a measure of what’s happening so we can scale up our activities,” says Carolan.
The Mulranney Environmental Group is also hoping that the area will become a place for high nature value farming. If this happens, it will give further impetus to plans to build wildlife corridors from Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) in Clew Bay to the Owenduff/Nephin Complex. “There is potential here for the Bunnahowen river to be a natural link between these two SACs,” explains Derek McLoughlin, an ecologist who has worked with the Mulranney group.
McLoughlin says that Mulranney’s great advantage is its range of habitats. “Mulranney has just great diversity with ecological niches for a range of species in coastal, upland and woodland habitats,” he says.
Bringing everyone in the community into the process is also important to members of the Mulranney Environmental group. Only when the habitats mapping project is completed, will local groups begin to realise the environmental gems on their doorstep. And appreciating and interacting with your local natural environment is the first step to protecting it and encouraging visitors to do likewise.