Funding boost for Bats!

Creggan Country Park and NI Bat Group have received funding from the NIEA Challenge Fund for a province wide batty project in 2013.

Local environmental charities will receive £125,000 from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to carry out projects between now and the end of March 2013.  The Challenge Fund 2013 builds on the success of a pilot programme in 2012 in which NIEA challenged local environmental charities, community groups and schools to devise and deliver ‘oven ready’ projects on a very short timescale.

‘This year’s successful projects were among 112 applications received from 81 organisations that applied for funding under the initiative’ commented Sue Christie, representing Northern Ireland Environment Link which administers the fund on behalf of NIEA.  She commented that from the response it is clear that ‘a relatively small amount of cash can enable volunteers to deliver great value.  Now the work begins; all of these projects must be completed before the end of March 2013, so look out for lots of environmental action over the next few months!

Karen Healy, Environmental Officer, Creggan Country Park and NI Bat Group said “We are delighted to receive £5,400 from the NIEA Challenge Fund for our ongoing bat project. Creggan Country Park is the North West base for the Northern Ireland Bat Group; from here we deliver talks and events to community groups and schools and during spring/summer months we launch a free helpline for people who find grounded bats.’  She adds “This project will allow us to deliver planting workshops to show people how to encourage bats to their garden by providing food sources for them. We will be working with Biodiversity Officers across Northern Ireland to deliver an event in each council area between January – March 2013.  In February, we will launch a competition for the most bat friendly school gardens; there are lots of prizes to be won in each council area.  We hope that through this project, people will recognise just how important bats are to biodiversity and our own wellbeing.”

Local primary school pupils took part in a special batty workshop at Antrim Castle Gardens on Thursday 31st January where they learned about myths associated with bats and created their own batty café window box.   A school gardening competition will be launched in February – schools will introduce bat friendly features to their school grounds including wildflowers, bat boxes and pond in a bucket to encourage these flying mammals to visit the school. Of the event, Ruth Wilson, Biodiversity Officer, Antrim Borough Council explained “This event is great for encouraging pupils to learn more about native species. Bats are nature’s pest controllers and so by inviting bats to your school or garden, you are reducing the number of moths, spiders and midges, great news if you like being outdoors in warm weather!”  Schools from each council area will submit a photograph of their bat friendly area to the NI Bat Group and their local Biodiversity Officer.  Three winners will be chosen and there are lots of great prizes to be won.

For more information visit www.creggancountrypark.com and www.bats-ni.org.uk

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