Connecting people from different backgrounds
The Riverine Environmental Project is connecting people from different backgrounds in the Strabane and Lifford area with each other and nature, and equipping them to discover, explore, and protect this diverse region. Funded by PEACE IV and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), it is made up of different strands focusing on engaging with our environment; from learning how to grow plants, exploring, to protection and conservation.
The Riverine Environmental Project is made up of several different strands that concentrate on different aspects of engaging with our environment; from learning how to grow plants, to exploring, to protection and conservation.
Delivered by Hummingbird NI & Dennett Anglers – This group focuses on environmental action such as litter picking, water quality monitoring and habitat improvement.
2020 has been a difficult time for everyone, however through Environmental Champions people have been given the opportunity to do something positive for their local environment and to build relationships with people that they may not otherwise have had. Importantly the programme has been an innovative method of engaging people in their own local environment and about how important it is to protect, preserve and restore wild places.
Noelle Donnell from Hummingbird NI says that this Peace IV project “has given us the opportunity to demonstrate that environmental stewardship and awareness crosses all borders and that these delicate environments can connect us all”.
Delivered by Far and Wild – Participants explore wild places on bike, river, and foot. The programme is designed to help people realise how much the local environment has to offer. Lawrence McBride from Far and Wild says “exploring wild places and spending time in nature has never been more important. Environmental Explorers gives participants the opportunity to forget some of the other pressures that they may have in life while at the same time discovering new places, learning new skills, and making new friends.”
Learning in the Landscape
Delivered by Butterlope Farm – Through hands on experiences participants learn new skills such as growing food, monitoring bats and local heritage. Annie Mullan from Butterlope Farm says “Riverine would be important at any time to provide screen free, high quality learning in the outdoors for all ages while meeting new people from their local community. In 2020 and following the lockdown we saw an extra appetite for people to meet up outside where it is safer and also a deeper appreciation of nature, caring for the environment and being able to grow your own food. The legacy of this project will be the new friendships, new vegetable gardens and the increase of locals taking part in citizen science nature projects.”
Like with all aspects of life at the moment, the different programmes have had to adapt to ensure that they are following current Covid-19 restriction guidelines. These include smaller group sizes, staggered start times and increased hand washing.
We often think of rivers as something that divide areas and communities. However, the Riverine Environmental Project uses rivers and wild areas to bring communities together allowing people to discover new places, learn new skills and to make new friends.
Project manager, Allan Bogle from Derry and Strabane District Council says “the Riverine Environmental Project is much more than just giving people experiences in the outdoors. It connects people to the landscape, brings communities together and creates environmental stewardship that will have a lasting legacy in the Strabane/ Lifford area.”