CBS Green school Committee

The 2021 CBS Green schools committee was introduced to the Kilkenny citizen science small stream macro invertebrate monitoring scheme at the river Breagagh this September. Ann Phelan regional coordinator of LAWPRO, Green schools TY coordinator Peter Mulhall, Pat Boyd chairperson KKB and Tom Turley of KKB.

The Kilkenny cityCitizen science invertebrate monitoring scheme has been undertaken over the last two years with baseline information already in place. It is therefore possible to monitor water quality on an ongoing basis.

Submission to Kilkenny Development plan 2021-2027

Submission of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful to the Kilkenny Draft Kilkenny City Development Plan – March 2021

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Since its inception over 40 years ago, Keep Kilkenny Beautiful’s core objective has always been the creation, maintenance and continual improvement of a clean and healthy environment for the enjoyment of all of Kilkenny’s citizens and visitors. We see this as a vital social service in today’s society, as the health and sustainability of our environment has a direct impact on the quality of life, physical and mental health of those who live here. Keep Kilkenny Beautiful (KKB) has played a leading and integral role in ensuring that Kilkenny continues to be a beautiful and healthy place to live in and to visit. In close partnership with Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny’s communities, we have helped to maintain litter free streets, rivers, residential areas and approach roads. Formal landscape presentations, colourful raised beds, hanging baskets, floral presentations and well-presented buildings have added colour and beauty and have helped Kilkenny win many Tidy Towns Awards – and most recently our unprecedented 5th IBAL Tidy Towns Award. Keeping Kilkenny Beautiful is now an important part of our heritage and of our culture.

Keep Kilkenny Beautiful is conscious of the urgency of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those pertaining to good health, climate action and also biodiversity loss. We urge the County Council to make the decisions now that will enable us to achieve these goals by 2030. We make this submission with particular emphasis on the specific goals of:

SDG.3.Good Health.

 SDG 6 – Clean Water;

 SDG.7.Affordable and Clean Energy.

 SDG 10 – Reduced Inequality;

 SDG 11- Sustainable Cities and Communities;

 SDG.12 – Responsible Consumption.

SDG 13 – Climate Action;

SDG 14 – Life Below Water;

SGD 15 – Life on Land;

SDG 17 – Partnerships to achieve the Goal.

We believe that at this critical point, any Local Authority Development Plan should be developed and designed to ensure that at County, City and local levels we maximise our contribution to achieving SDG Goals. In this context we offer this submission for consideration, which we believe to be important in creating a sustainable and inclusive future for all of Kilkenny’s citizens.

Climate Change Mitigation

Keep Kilkenny Beautiful proposes that:

  • The Kilkenny Tree Cover Master Cover Plan, initiated in 2020 by Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, Kilkenny City Area Office and Kilkenny Parks Department, be integrated into a Kilkenny City and County Tree Management Strategy as part of Kilkenny County Council’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy to combat and mitigate against climate change, also fulfilling the Nature Based Solution Actions 9 & 10 in the Kilkenny Climate Change Adaptation Strategy 2019.
  • That Kilkenny County Council would collaborate with Keep Kilkenny Beautiful in an annual Biodiversity and Tree Planting Challenge in partnership with the 32 County Tree

Planting Charity, Trees in the Land; The National Tree Council; and other landowners and community stakeholders in the planting of specific numbers of trees and hedgerows, which we propose should be at least 8000 trees per year – which equals to a mile of hedgerow.

  • That Kilkenny County Council would seek to identify and acquire additional suitable land for continued tree planting in the future, given the importance of such in mitigating climate change, and would seek to involve Kilkenny communities in this activity.
  • That trees and hedgerows be planted where possible in the Market Yard and St Mary’s Car Park as per the objectives of the Climate Change 2019 Adaptation Strategy.
  • That native tree and hedgerow planting be used in and around all new housing developments and avoid the use of Laurel, a non-native and invasive tree.
  • That the principles of Net Biodiversity Gain be adopted as a condition of all future infrastructure and housing development.
  • That a Municipal bio-digester be constructed as a priority within or close to the city to produce sustainable energy and also to produce quality peat-free horticultural compost.
  • That the responsible and sustainable production and use of renewable energy be prioritised.

Biodiversity and the Pollinator Plan

That Kilkenny County Council would devise and implement Local Area Biodiversity Action Plans in line with the Kilkenny Tree Cover Master Plan.

That Kilkenny County Council would follow the lead taken by other County Councils and commit to increasing their actioning of the National Pollinator Plan through the following:

  • To commit to changing the grass management regime on council-owned land through procuring the equipment or services that will allow this land to be better managed for biodiversity, recognising that current grass management services are not appropriate for this task. This will increase ecological connectivity, contribute towards biodiversity net gain and increase the natural capital value of our publicly-owned land, as well as decreasing carbon dioxide emissions from the reduction in grass cutting.
  • To increase the use of wild flower meadows on public lands, road verges and roundabouts.
  • To select planting schemes that are pollinator-friendly and sustainable – eg choosing perennials and grasses that will have year-long interest rather than seasonal annuals.
  • To commit to reduction and phasing out of pesticides with the exception of dealing with aggressive invasive species.
  • To promulgate the pollinator plan among council staff and offer Continuous Professional Development training in biodiversity.
  • To commit to delaying grass cutting on council owned land (other than sporting pitches) until the middle of April at the earliest.
  • To support and develop the Invasive Species programme currently being implemented by KKB with the assistance of Nore Vision and under the direction and guidance of the Parks Department and NPWS.
  • To seek to enter Council-owned park areas into the Green Flag for Parks Pollinator Award.

That Kilkenny County Council would recognise and further develop the many societal and health benefits of increasing citizen participation, learning and understanding in biodiversity, nature and growing food through the following:

  • Creation of allotment provision in all 4 quarters of the City and the city centre, and encouragement of citizens through provision of community training opportunities in pollinator-friendly and sustainable gardening.
  • Scoping and development of community compost hubs.
  • Provision of area leaf dumps for composting leaves into mulch.
  • Scoping the development of a Centre dedicated to teaching Grow-Your-Own sustainable gardening and healthy eating and living within the City environs (comparable to Grow HQ in Waterford)
  • Support/facilitation of the creation of Outdoor Classrooms to ensure that understanding and access to nature are accessible to all citizens of Kilkenny.

Natural Habitats –  Newpark Fen

 

That Kilkenny County Council, in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, NGOs and appropriate community organisations, would explore an expanded conservation management plan for the Newpark Fen and explore the potential to incorporate the wet woodlands owned by Kilkenny College, with the aim of making the whole complex available to the public, initially for education purposes.

That Kilkenny County Council would explore the possibility of full public access to the whole site using the DAFM Neighbourhood funding scheme to expand the site and to procure the adjacent field at the north-east Corner for community tree planting.

 

Natural Habitats – River Nore

The River Nore is possibly Kilkenny’s most under-utilised natural asset. Sensitive development for recreational use is also a means of ensuring good water quality. It increases our attractiveness as a visitor destination and it promotes healthy citizenship. We ask that the following be considered:

  • Development of a Boat House and Jetty as a river amenity resource within the city.
  • Provision of additional boat slips offering controlled boat and kayak access
  • Provision of a white water and slalom kayaking amenity at Lacken Weir.
  • Opening up vistas of the river from the Bishops Meadows Linear Park in line with local residents wishes and provision of resting benches at these points where the river can be viewed and heard.

Natural Habitats – Rivers Bregagh and Pococke

The water quality of rivers Breagagh and Pococke has deteriorated considerably in recent years and urgently needs to be addressed. We ask that the following be considered:

  • That Kilkenny County Council establish Local River conservation groups with partners KKB, LAWPRO, NPWS, Nore Vision or River Trust and relevant land owners to proactively pursue and implement measures to restore Good Ecological Status.
  • That the restoration of Good Ecological Status be an imperative condition to be achieved prior to commencement of any riversite-associated residential development which would ensure quality natural and recreational amenities going forward.
  • That appropriate access to and from the rivers Bregagh and Pococke be developed.
  • That the feasibility of a Pocock riverside walkway from the Sion Rd to the Johnswell rd roundabout be explored for development.
  • That a survey and installation of attenuation ponds be undertaken to intercept runoff and silt running from the Ring Rd into the River Pococke currently causing ecological deterioration in that river.

Sustainable infrastructure

Transport

In order to ensure that Kilkenny is a city that is focused on the wellbeing, health and safety of its inhabitants into the future, we ask that Kilkenny County Council would follow the evidence-based international best practice of reducing car use and prioritising more sustainable forms of transport including the following:

  • Provision of more pedestrianised zones in the City Centre’s main shopping area and particularly in the Medieval core.
  • Provision of car-free zones at entry and exit points from all schools and amend parking bye laws appropriately.
  • Provision of more dedicated cycle lanes.
  • Provision of contraflow cycle lanes in one-way streets
  • Provision of adequate bicycle parking stands in all areas
  • Provision of more park and ride/cycle facilities at the outskirts of the city .
  • Creation of new cross-river cycle and pedestrian links.
  • Increase of electric Vehicle recharging points.
  • Scoping out the provision of pedestrian access along the eastern bank of the river from Greensbridge to Talbots Inch.

Sustainable tourism

In order to ensure that we remain an attractive visitor destination as well as a clean and healthy place for our citizens, we ask that Kilkenny County Council would address some of the principal causes of littering and waste to mitigate their effects on our environment, and consider the following:

  • To support, develop and promote festivals and markets with zero waste outcomes in Kilkenny.
  • To introduce composting bins in public areas where compostable food containers are used (particularly the Parade) as otherwise these containers go into landfill.
  • To adopt in principle that food packaging is a major cause of litter and waste, and to restrict provision and promotion of fast food containers and encourage provision of package-free food and sustainable alternatives at public festivals and events.
  • To provide more segregated recycling centres and incentivise aluminium and glass recycling.
  • To provide drinking fountains in the City which cuts down on plastic use.
  • To include tree planting and maximum biodiversity gain as an integral part of good street design.
  • To enforce current by-laws regarding dog fouling.
  • To consider the introduction of new dog fouling byelaws using DNA technology to identify dog owners who do not clean up.

Keep Kilkenny Beautiful

 

Annual bat study in full swing

Shining a light on bats.
The sun had been out all day and in the dwindling light I met up with Kilkenny tidy towns for a bat walk. Our meeting place was in front of the Hurling Statue, with the high walls of the castle above us and the broad sweep of the River Nore inviting us to discover nature. On first view this looked like an excellent habitat to discover bats.

Canal square in the evening

Gathering for a bat study on Canal square

The walk is a well-used meeting point for the community. A few people were heading off on an evening stroll, while kids played on their skateboards while under the watching eye of their parents.

Soon a small and socially distanced group has assembled. Two ladies arrived late as Johns Street was closed and they had to take a longer route.
We started off with an introduction to bats. Bats are mammals like us. They are warm blooded and give birth to live young that are fed on milk. Bats are often found in our houses and one of the main reasons for this is the massive changes in our landscape.
In other parts of Europe bats use old trees with natural cavities and these are rare in Ireland. Also a lot of older buildings that are natural bat roosts have been renovated so use our attics instead. One man commented that he had bats in his attic years ago but they moved on of their own accord. Attics are especially important as maternity roosts where the females will have their one pup.
Bats have a very slow rate of reproduction and this means that it takes years for the population to build up. Bats mate in the autumn, but the female can delay fertilisation till spring. With plenty of insects around she can produce milk for her pup. Bats can eat up to 3500 insects each night and moths, mayflies and beetles are also caught.
Bats are fully protected by Irish and European law and it is illegal to disturb their maternity and roosting places. If you do need to carry out works, consult with the local wildlife ranger and they can offer sensible and practical advice on how the works can be carried out.
There are many myths around bats and they are not flying mice and don’t fly into your hair. When we are out walking we radiate heat from our head and also breathe out Carbon dioxide. This attracts insects and the bats fly around us trying to catch them.
Before we started the walk I demonstrated how to use a bat detector. This converts the normally inaudible calls of a bat, into a sound that we can hear and with a bit of experience identify the specie of bat. Thanks to Kilkenny Co.Co for providing additional detectors and this meant there was one for everyone in the group.
This is a tense moment for me as bats on occasion have not performed for a group. Thankfully we were blessed and it was not long before we heard the first of many bats. When bats first emerge they are starving and there is also loads of banter as they discuss where the best feed spots are.

The calls of the Common pipistrelle came through very clearly and everyone was really excited to hear the bats. Occasional we saw a bat and many commented that they will never view the walk in the same way again, after experiencing the thrills of bat watching. After a few minutes the activity level dropped off and this is natural, as bats disperse to wider feeding grounds.

While we waited we discussed the best place to put up a bat box. Boxes should be located at least four meters of the ground with no obstructing branches that will hinder the bats flying in. While birds have the ability to fly straight out of a box, bats have to drop down making them vulnerable to attack by cats. Other dangers is the long term Impact of powerful lighting that drives away bats. This is especially true on old bridges and churches and who is going to be looking at them at 3am. Thankfully the canal walk is well balanced in terms of lighting. Habitat loss like the removal of hedgerows destroys the bats green highways.

Bats are not blind and there eyesight is as good as ours during the night. Bats use echolocation to build up a picture of the night-time landscape. This allows then to hunt tiny flies and larger moths in the pitch dark. But insects like moths are not passive prey and each year an evolutionary arms race goes out in our gardens and towns. Bats can live for up to 30 years and with age they become more experienced hunters. Moths defences are constantly been upgraded. The hairs on the bodies of some species can sense the echolocation calls of the bats. The moth can then drop like a stone to the ground to escape or distort the bats signal. The worrying decline in insect populations is a major concern for the future health of bats. Leisers bats are Ireland’s biggest species and we did hear the social and mating calls of the males in the trees above the heads. These were located near the love seats built into the walls long the canal walk  for human occupation.

On the way back we examined the plant community growing on the walls. Navelwort, Pellitory of the wall and ivy leaved toadflax all support wildlife. Dog rose, ash, Horse chestnut and lime trees lined the path and can be home to roosting bats especially if they are covered in ivy.  Bats are interesting part of Kilkenny City wildlife and I really enjoyed discovering them on the walk.

Comments/Questions to albert.nolan@rocketmail.com or 089 4230502. Albert is also available to give walks/talks to schools, tidy towns, youth and community groups.

Winter planting and cleanups

This is the time of year for bare root planting of trees and bushes,  planting winter bedding plants,  being cruel to be kind with the trimming of bushes,moving / dividing plants around,  annual cuting of wild flower areas, removing hard to get at  blown  non biodegradable plastic from under bushes and hedges (it’s about time that  25c is put on every plastic bottle, can , coffee cup etc  so that they have a value)  and countless other jobs…..

planning the next projects with St Kierans TY tidytowns

River Breagagh runs higher again

cleaning

Planting

New mural with a busy bee

bee friendly whitethorn planting under way ….

winter berries

St Kieran’s Ty students lend a hand!

it goes on ….

Balsam removal campaign 2019

Congratulations to all who came out to  work on  the balsam removal campaign 2019, there will be further regular  evenings  during  May, June and July. The programme has been extremely successful with almost total removal of balsam throughout the city from Talbot’s inch to Ossory Bridge. The  areas previously cleared  will also be checked for any new growth and the 2019 campaign is to extend the area cleared to the south-east of Ossory bridge. Congratulations to all who have taken part so far this year. To take part, please contact us and also monitor our events page. Balsam is an invasive species and it’s removal encourages the growth of native species of plants along the riverbank.

 

Big Hello in Kilkenny on the river Nore walks

Community in action, the big Hello  with KKB highlighting the wonderful riverside walks in Kilkenny, a great day was had at Riverside /entrance to the riverside Nore walk.  The event was sweetened by great cakes from Cakeface cafe, and washed down with tea, coffee and chat.  KKB reuseable cups were also showcased.  All the  faithful dogs being walked  were not forgotten about  with treats also  being enjoyed.   The message   is to protect the environment,  Keep Kilkenny Beautiful and collect after your dog.

Plant for the Planet and treeplanting week

KKB and Dukesmeadows residents  participated in a UN-backed global initiative which is being spearheaded in Ireland by the charity Crann, Trees for Ireland through their easy treesie project. With support from Kilkenny County Council, children are assisted in planting native and naturalised trees in their local area. Kilkenny City  was selected for a ceremonial tree planting in advance of Earth Day next Monday . This project will assist in providing a shelter belt and wildlife corridor, capture carbon and of course beautify our area.The fruit trees are also very important for our wildlife and pollinators.

Fruit tree planting at Dukesmeadows

Many children around the country have already had a chance to join in this environmental learning opportunity, planting over 14,000 trees in their local parks, community gardens, roadside verges and hospitals as part of the challenge for Ireland’s children to plant a million trees by 2023.

The trees have been specially selected by the team of specialists in easy treesie – Crann. Joining in this activity ties in with many curriculum objectives at local schools and will assist in their winning the International Green Flags.

There was a presentation at Dukesmeadows during the planting on the subject of trees and their importance for our city  by Orla Farrell of Crann . A great planting was has by all.  Our  children will have the opportunity to benefit from the fruit of their labours for many years to come.

KKB have been working with many groups throughout Kilkenny over the last number of years to plant  hundreds of fruit trees and bushes  suitable for their location.A number of community orchards have already been established and additional orchards are being planned. This action  continue over the next number of years. Residents associations and voluntary groups who would like to participate in this action are more than welcome to contact KKB for the next planting season.

The environment needs protection.

The environment needs protection.

For the past week, a group of 27 young environmentalists from 15 different European countries – have gathered in Kilkenny to learn about grassroots movements.

The network Youth and Environment Europe (YEE) organized a seminar ‘know your grassroots’, which brought them  together.

Today the group  joins Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, you could too!