Mullagh Sports Partnership (MSP) invested €228,197.43 to develop a Biodiversity Walkway approximately 950m in length and 2.5m wide around the perimeter of a new football pitch owned by CLG Cuchulainn and an older pitch owned by Mullagh Community Park Development Ltd. and bordering a section of Mullagh Lough Stream. Low level lighting, indigenous native landscaping, two localized riparian areas with two small board walks, a wetland, an otter holt, seating and interpretative panels, a gabion wall protecting an important geomorphological feature – an Esker formed this development, ensuring that the planned human, built environment enhanced and protected the natural environment present and past.
Presentation of the project
A82F768- land owned by MSP in the environs of Mullagh, which has undergone rapid expansion in recent years, from a small agriculturally based community to a growth area, located just inside the Cavan border at the end of the M3 with significant residential developments. The resultant demographic is a very young population with a requirement to provide appropriate physical and educational activity infrastructure within the community.
2018 the land was acquired as a brown field site. 2019 a study was commissioned by Dr. Mary Tubridy to assist MSP to develop a biodiversity walk which “will explain and demonstrate the geology, geomorphology, paleoecology, archaeology and human geography of the site and link this to the surrounding area of East Cavan”. This detailed study, weaknesses, strengths and recommendations informed all aspects of planning for the walkway.
The geodiversity review describes landscape history, rocks, soils and their relationship with vegetation. An Esker, a glacial deposition feature dating back to the end of the last ice age was discovered (1 of 4 in Cavan). The walkway was planned to pass in front of this unique feature, with an interpretative panel explaining its formation, flora and fauna. As a result, landscaping was developed to illustrate history from the last ice age to the present day, thus linking with the story of the Esker. Native Woodland was planted and native hedgerow of holly, hawthorn and mixed aged birch replaced Leylandii. Five Interpretative panels were erected explaining this story.
The creation of a small wetland to the north of Mullagh Lough Stream was achieved by reinstating a riparian wetland along the river, even on this small scale, it is hoped to stem the national wetland ecosystem decline and play a valuable role in cleaning water quality and providing some flood control benefits within the wider River Boyne Catchment area. An otter holt was also installed.
- The local primary school have incorporated the Biodiversity Walkway as part of their “Our Local Geography” curriculum. Summer 2023 MSP hosted a primary teacher training morning with the assistance of LAWP Officer.
- 2021 establishment of Park Run- 5km around the amenity every Saturday morning. Celebrating two years, numbers participating, including visitors from home and abroad have steadily increased.
- The positive and educational effects of this easily accessible and free walkway have benefitted a wide range of demographics taking into account, age, race, gender, disability and socio-economic factors and plays its part in the development of social cohesion in the area.
- Summer 2023 completion of an Amenity Access Area, providing parking for cars, buses and bicycles using permeable asphalt, paving and a Swale as a strategy for onsite water management (SuDs Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems). An outdoor classroom and equipment to facilitate future Biodiversity and environmental education.
This project idea was animated and enhanced by the biodiversity training course run by CCLD LEADER during which contacts were made with biodiversity/nature and water experts which helped along the way. The Biodiversity study advised and funded by LEADER is an action plan for this project and other phases. MSP successfully secured LEADER grant aid of €171,148.07 for this project.
The town of Mullagh has undergone rapid expansion in recent years resulting in a wide diversity of cultural and demographic mix as well as increased demands for social and cultural uses. Through the provision of this substantial recreational and educational amenity, an increase in participation of all members of the community in physical exercise, enhancing both physical and mental wellbeing coupled with an increased knowledge and appreciation of the importance of biodiversity has been achieved. The created wetland also plays a valuable role within the wider river catchment in not only cleaning water quality and providing flood control benefits but also supporting an ecosystem for the plants and animals that dwell in it.
The project is consistent with both LEADER and the LAG’s Strategy under Theme: Rural Environment: Sub-theme: Protection and improvement of local biodiversity; Strategic Action: 3.2.1. Establishment/development of biodiversity area, reintroduction of native plants and flowers, provision of information panels, signage in order to highlight this area and the local biodiversity. It also meets an objective of the Cavan County Local Development Strategy 3.2.2 Protection and enhancement of natural habitats and the Cavan LECP; ‘Objective 10.2 Support opportunities for sporting and recreational life within the county, ensuring equal access for all.
Our local strategy highlighted and identified environmental concerns as being quite diverse in the county and the need for development measures for the protection of water, biodiversity and habitat. This project addresses a number of the environmental priorities in our local development strategy as an accessible community walkway aimed at the protection, promotion and education of biodiversity, the protection of habitats and waterways and the management of flood waters
This project has been used and highlighted to other potential projects in the county, resulting in the Promoter facilitating onsite visits for exchange of ideas and information. The same could be achieved with other LAGs.