The Longford Greenway will offer a walk on the wild side, with scenic routes through Ireland’s midlands. The route is positioned along numerous existing Bord na Mona rail corridors. These routes bisect areas of raised bog, scrub, wetland and grassland habitats. Flynn Furney Environmental Consultants were asked by Clandillon Civil Consulting to prepare an ecological constraints report for the project, and conduct an Appropriate Assessment Screening.
The proposed walking route generally follows the old trainline network used to bring cut peat to the Lanesborough power station and to other storage and processing facilities associated with the peat extraction industry. The route also includes a number of spurs and side trails linking the main trail to roads, towns and to other trail networks. The surrounding landscape is dominated by a mixture of degraded bogs, recolonizing ground, bog woodland, rivers (including the Shannon), improved and wet grassland interspersed with conifer plantations.
While these rail routes were initially developed to enable the extraction of peat, the greenway will offer opportunities for visitors to appreciate and explore the beautiful regenerating habitats in this midland locality. The route will provide an excellent tourism and educational opportunity and will undoubtedly raise an awareness of our peatland habitats and their importance for biodiversity. With an array of native flora and fauna, including increasingly rare open-habitat bird species, the overall project offers excellent opportunities for habitat restoration and conservation.
Flynn Furney Environmental Consultants’ role in this project was to highlight key habitats, features, species and ecological considerations along the 75km long proposed greenway route. Extensive mapping of habitats and features along the route was undertaken. Additionally, our role was to assess the impact of proposed route development and operation on protected habitats and species.
Given the locality of the route, and continued localised operational aspects of the site, for some peat extraction activities, it was deemed that this development would have a very low ecological impact. In combination with other plans by Bord na Mona for habitat restoration of this area, realisation of Bord na Mona’s overall vision for this peatland ecosystem would have wide-ranging positive implications for the biodiversity value of the area.
It was a pleasure for Flynn Furney Environmental Consultants to have been involved in this project, with support from Bord na Mona and Longford County Council. The project will offer an excellent opportunity to expand outdoor recreational opportunities, and opportunities for engaging with native biodiversity.