A new project aimed at conserving the fresh water Pearl Mussel in South Kerry has been approved by the EU. The Kerry LIFE+ project will be worth some €3.8m to the region over some 5 years and will see the creation of 4 or 5 jobs to be based in a project office in either the Glencar or Blackwater area.

The project will focus on working with farmers in the area to look to develop farming methods to enhance the water quality in both the Glencar and Blackwater areas aimed at conserving the fresh water Pearl Mussel. It is being lead by the Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht with South Kerry Development Partnership taking a leading role in working with the farmers in the regions to implement the project on the ground. In addition, the project will see the Coillte, Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service involved in the project over the 5 year period.

SKDP’s Agriculture Manager Joseph McCrohan said that this project has developed through SKDP’s Agricultural Working Group following research undertaken in the region by UCC’s Dr. Eileen O’Rourke with 80 farmers that resulted in the Farming in the Iveragh Uplands report. He said that 45% of the funding will go to the family farms in the areas concerned to carry out work on their farms aimed at improving nutrient management and protecting the water quality on their land.

Agricultural Working Group Chairman Pat O’Driscoll said that this project is very much a voluntary bottom up approach demonstration project where the farmers involved will have a direct say on how the project will operate on their farms. There is both a research and demonstration element involved in this project which will greatly benefit the farmers in the area in their work” Pat added.

In addition to the work that will be undertaken on the farms, a major public awareness campaign will also be rolled out through the local schools and wider community to highlight the importance of the project for the region and the benefits it can bring for the farming and wider community in the area.

“This project can have a significant positive impact on all river catchments in Kerry as the learning derived from it can be used by groups in the other areas to enhance their water quality” Joseph pointed out.

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