The CANN Project

The CANN project is a cross-border environment project which aims to improve the condition of protected habitats and to support priority species found within Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Scotland, allowing the region to meet key EU biodiversity targets and ensuring the future of these internationally important habitats and species.

With €9.4 million of funding from the INTERREG VA programme the CANN project team will produce Conservation Action Plans for a range of sites across the jurisdictions which are designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and accumulatively account for over 25,000 hectares of land. Direct conservation actions will be carried out on 3,650 hectares of these SACs, all with an aim to help and guide the habitats and species found at these sites towards a favourable conservation status.

Made up of leading government departments, local authorities, research institutions and charities from across the three jurisdictions, the CANN project team will work together with local communities and stakeholders towards a common goal of improving the environmental condition of these SACs.  This includes delivering educational and outreach programmes and raising awareness of the significance of the habitats and species found on the sites, with the aspiration of safeguarding the conservation of these key sites and ensuring their sustainability beyond 2021 and the lifespan of the CANN project.

The CANN project aims to improve the condition of protected blanket bog and key wetland habitats and to support the priority species found there through:

  • Carrying out on the ground conservation actions on over 3,650ha of designated sites (Special Areas of Conservation) to improve their environmental condition;
  • Producing 27 Conservation Action Plans (CAPs) which will act as a roadmap to recovery for these sites and inform strategic planning processes to ensure that these sites continue to be guided towards favourable conservation status beyond the lifespan of the CANN project;
  • Operating as a multi-jurisdictional network to exchange conservation knowledge and environmental best practise, to strengthen cross-border co-operation in facilitating the recovery of these protected habitats and priority species, and to ensure that borders do not represent an overwhelming barrier for conservation and biodiversity;
  • Working with stakeholders, landowners and local communities to bring about positive environmental change, and to raise awareness of the value of these habitats and species and the importance of conserving them.

The progress The CANN Project has made to date:

  • May 2017: The CANN project receives permission to start work, and partner organisations sign the CANN partnership agreement.
  • Summer 2017 to date: Stakeholder engagement commenced during summer 2017 and has been on-going ever since.
  • Spring – Summer 2017: Work begins on establishing an accurate baseline assessment of habitats and species across the project sites through fieldwork, surveys, and digital mapping.
  • Autumn – Winter 2017: Liaison between the CANN project and government departments and agencies across the three jurisdictions increases as a template for the Conservation Action Plans is drafted, and agreements are made to facilitate the sharing of best practice, data and knowledge.
  • May 2018: A standard Conservation Action Plan (CAP) template is agreed with the relevant government departments and agencies.
  • June 2018: The CANN project holds a successful launch event in Co. Monaghan in with Ella McSweeney, a renowned Irish Journalist and Environmentalist, delivering the key-note address.
  • Spring-Summer 2018: Baseline surveying is carried out across most project sites. This includes bird and nest location surveys, collection of bathymetry and water quality data, habitat quality assessments, and invasive species studies.
  • Spring -Summer 2018: Implementation of on the ground actions begins based on the data collected during baseline surveying in spring-summer 2017 and early 2018, namely nest protection and rhododendron control. The success of these on the ground actions will be carefully monitored year on year.
  • July 2018: The CANN project receives additional funding of €1.1million for Cuilcagh.
  • August 2018: An invasive species management trail takes place at Lough Arrow, Co. Sligo, and will be closely monitored for success. Read more about this trial and why it is needed here.
  • September 2018: The very rare Desmoulin’s whorl snail is found on a CANN project site in Co. Down – the first time this species has ever been found in Northern Ireland. Read more about how important a find this is here.
  • September 2018: CANN project staff carry out Sphagnum moss restoration trials on areas of degraded bog at Peatlands Park. These trials will be carefully monitored to see if they can be replicated across project sites. Read more about this revolutionary method here.
  • November 2018: Biosecurity training takes place with stakeholders of Lough Arrow in Co. Sligo. Read more about the training and why it is important here.
  • December 2018: Ten draft Conservation Action Plans are produced.
  • January 2019: draft plans for Eilean na Muice Duibhe and The Rinns  produced, work continues all year with ongoing monitoring and stakeholder engagement to produce final plans
  • January 2019: Four draft plans submitted for Ballynahone Bog, Garry Bog, Tully bog and Turmennan
  • Spring Summer 2019: fieldwork and mapping projects undertaken on Ben Nevis and many other Scottish sites
  • Summer 2018: workshops on best practice in writing conservation management plans, and peatland restoration techniques held on Islay. Biosecurity workshop held in Magheraveely/ Kilroosky and an International Bog Day celebration held on Cuilcagh
  • Summer 2018 : CANN showcased at various conferences including IUCN 2019 conference and UKILN (UK and Ireland Lakes Network)
  • September 2019: Successful Mid Term Conference held. Read more about the conference here
  • October 2019: presentation given by CANN at the Burren Winterage event
  • October 2019: a complete habitat map of Sliabh Beagh site is produced including conifer mapping and landowner, turbery rights and bird data from Golden Eagle Trust

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