Here’s the thing about Environmental Protection: you often don’t know what you have ’til its gone, and once it’s gone, it can’t be easily replaced.
The environment of the Ulster Canal is unique – it was abandoned in the early 1930s, and
in may locations the natural habitat along the watercourse has been allowed to organically re-colonise, creating an important and undisturbed for so many of our native species. Protecting the environment of the Ulster Canal was one of the main priorities of the Monaghan Town Greenway.
So, before ever we turned a sod, before ever a digger entered the banks of the canal, we set about surveying what was there, planning how to minimise disturbance to it, and how best to preserve the high quality habitats which had grown up along the canal as it lay undisturbed.
An initial Ecological Survey was commissioned from Flynn Furney. This not only told us what we had, but noted specific items which ought to be retained, as well as advised on how to minimise the disturbance to the ecology as we came through.
Joe Shannon of Birdwatch Ireland conducted a Bird Survey for us, and found 42 species of birds on his travels, including kingfishers and grey herons.
Carmel Brennan of the Action for Biodiversity project plotted the invasive plant species to be found along the route and advised on how best to deal with them.
Dr Tina Aughney of Bat Conservation Ireland surveyed the route and found 5 of Ireland’s 7 bat species along it
Flynn Furney conducted a badger survey, to identify the location of setts and determine if they would be disturbed. 2 occupied setts were found, and the contractors were careful not to go near them during the construction works.
All of these experts advised us and worked with us to ensure we minimised the impact of the Greenway. Soil on site was kept onsite, ensuring any native seed was kept and had the chance to grow after teh ground was disturbed. The works were planned around environmentally sensitive times. Mature trees were protected and retained.
We developed a best practice model, which will be used on future phases of the Greenway, showcasing how we can all work together to protect and conserve – find out more about who was involved on our Biodiversity Team Page, and find out about the Biodiversity Management Plan here.