Local Environmental Networks: How to get involved

Published by Catherine O'Toole on

12th December, 2017

Local Environmental Networks (LENs) are made up of individuals with a passion for environmental issues. Unlike a single issue group, the LEN is a meeting place for all ideas and callings. They provide a central hub around which people from a given county can gather, discuss projects, ask for help, create change and become involved in their local Public Participation Network (PPN).

All across the country LENs are being used to bring people together, create meaningful projects for the local community and impact the wider surroundings. We look at three projects being undertaken by LENs in Ireland to see what can be achieved through these wonderful enablers of people power.

Find your Local Environmental Network here and get involved today!

Kilkenny Environmental Network

The Kilkenny Environmental Network is very active in local and national issues.

SWAN expert outlines details of draft plan

Recently they held a workshop with the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) to engage with the River Basin Draft Management Plan. This workshop brought together members of the public with leading experts in water and sustainability. The draft plan was studied for any inaccuracies and shortcomings, and a submission was made to the public consultation on what needs to be included to ensure healthy water systems for Ireland’s future.

This important public consultation process would not have worked if it were not for actions such as those of the Kilkenny Environmental Network. Through the Network, members of the community had the opportunity to productively engage in the future of our waterways.

Dublin Community Environmental Network

The Dublin community Environmental Network (DCEN) is quite new. Members can keep in contact through the DCEN Facebook group, and receive news in a monthly newsletter. The DCEN is a place for those involved in groups in Dublin City to advertise their events, call out for volunteers and find out what others are doing in the city.

Photo: Potted orchard pack – Irish Seed Savers

Members are currently involved in creating an inner-city Educational Orchard situated on Dunne Street, close to the Five Lamps. This orchard will be open to the community to use, explore and harvest. Apple trees from each county in Ireland will be planted to emphasise the links between the countryside and inhabitants of the city. Spaces between the trees will be planted with fruit bushes such as blackcurrent, gooseberry and redberry. Even the grass area will contribute to the ecology of the site, with carefully chosen companion plants giving the trees natural protection against insects, while also rejuvenating the soil with the nutrients the trees will need.

The two local schools will have access to the orchard and Workshops will teach children how to plant and care for the trees. The annual harvest will provide a social occasion for the schools and for the community, providing an opportunity for residents to rekindle old friendships and create new ones.

Members of the DCEN, Engineers Without Borders, Men’s Shed and Forest Friends to name but a few, are all involved in this exciting project. Though the orchard is still in the planning stage, everyone involved is excited to see what this cooperation will lead to.

Cork Environmental Forum

The Cork Environmental Forum (CEF) works to foster, promote and implement sustainable development at a local level in the Cork region.

Duhallow REVAMP

Every year the CEF highlights the achievements of activists in Cork at the CEF Environmental Awards. CEF has held its Environmental Awards ceremony since 2001 which aims to acknowledge and honour the sometimes little-known actions of groups, organisations and individuals around the county that have contributed to the health or richness of the Cork environment. Waste reduction and protection of wildlife feature strongly with 2017 winners.

Winners include Duhallow REVAMP, which diverts furniture from landfill by upcycling and recirculating it into the community. and UCC’s Love Our Library team for their waste reduction efforts on campus. Businesses were also celebrated, with The Filling Station and My Goodness both being awarded for their zero waste approach and choice of environmentally sound options for consumers.

Jim Wilson has been awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award in acknowledgment of his contribution to wildlife publications, broadcasting, and photography throughout the years.

Photo by Jim Wilson

Get in touch with your local environmental network to keep up to date on opportunities in your county!

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Catherine O'Toole

Catherine is a contributor to the Green News. She has a BA in Photography from DIT and has a keen interest in conservation photography.