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GREEN CLARE: Wild about Miltown Malbay group want to put area back on the map

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The Wild About Miltown Malbay (WaMM) Biodiversity group is a committed group of volunteers with the aim of raising awareness on ways of improving biodiversity, actively creating more wildlife habitats in the area and controlling Non-Native Invasive Species (NNIS).

A sub-group of Miltown Malbay Tidy Towns established in 2019, the group’s mission objective is to respond to the global crisis, destruction of habitat and biodiversity loss as well as fostering a better sense of community through work and recreation.

Sitting down with The Clare Echo, Chairperson Su Powell and Secretary Honora Meade discuss their vested interests in environmental science, ameliorating the local environ of Miltown with regards to biodiversity projects as well as the necessity of local funding and support. In addition, the group plot some progressive plans for the immediate future, looking to amalgamate the local community in response to the ensuing climate crisis, and in turn, hope to ‘put Miltown Malbay back on the map.’

The WaMM group, made up of a committee of five members, come from a variety of disciplines and their skills and abilities have given the group the momentum they need to complete the tasks they envision. Some of the WaMM members participated in the Burren Beo biodiversity course in 2019 and the CLDC bio course in Ennis in 2019, and lectures run by Seedsavers and Dr. Frances Giaquinto and others, admitting that, ‘they deepened our knowledge and understanding of how to enhance biodiversity, but we still have a lot to learn.’

On the sub-group’s undertakings, Su states, “We started with the film night on 12th June 2019. That was ‘Symphony of the Soil’ and it was our launch night. We had a packed-out house and received great feedback from that. We then set up a Wild About Miltown Malbay Facebook page and twitter account where we inform the community about our projects and activities as well as answer any queries they may have about biodiversity”.

A monthly lecture and workshop series began in September 2019 where speakers included Cormac McCarthy from Ennis Tidy Towns, Donal de Barra on tales of sustainable living, Bob Wilson on planting native trees plus Vincent Keane on farming and conservation in the Burren.

At this time, a variety of projects were also undertaken. The first full project tackled by the biodiversity group was the development of a third of the LCETB field. After securing Leader funding, a few hundred trees, hedging and bulbs were planted around the perimeter. Essential equipment was provided as well as what the group have described as ‘tremendous help’ from the local Direct Provision (DP) group. The second endeavour was a community garden on Mullagh Road, opposite the National School. Architectural plans were drawn up and mixed native wildlife hedging was planted. The four-phase project also incorporates an Ogham native tree circle, one tree for every lunar moon of the year as well as a unique wildflower garden that flourished in the summer. WaMM work with the all-Ireland pollinator guide, an effective manual for anyone looking to improve the biodiversity of their own garden. Lush and Leader funding have also allowed for the WAMM group to team up with Invasive Species Specialist Dr. Frances Giaquinto and associates, to assist in eradicating 9 sites overrun with Japanese Knotweed around the town.

On the future for the forward-thinking biodiversity group, Su informs, “We hope to try and create more community spirit in realising that this is a global crisis. We can start locally and change what we are doing here in Miltown. We love to bring communities together, where we are all singing from the same hymn sheet and working together is better for our environment. The church car park is our next project. It has been chosen by the County Council to develop and we look forward to working with them in bringing it to its full potential. Honora adds, “We are continuing to work with other groups, whether business, culture or archaeological. We haven’t worked with some of them yet but we know that working together is essential for our town.”

Wild About Miltown Malbay are open to new members. Anyone interested can contact Su at wildaboutmiltownmalbay@gmail.com. The group also has a GoFundMe page for their community garden. Any contribution is warmly welcomed.

An avid reader from a young age, Cian’s love of the archives has been shared by Clare Echo readers who enjoy his Reeling in The Years section. Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett and Michael Crichton were his favourites writers in his younger years while he was always a fan of studying the opinion columns in The Irish Independent. A past pupil of Lissycasey National School and St Flannan’s College, he is currently completing his final year studies at the University of Limerick in New Media and English. From September, he will be commencing a Masters Degree in Journalism at UL.

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