Launch of CANN
Liam Hannaway, Chief Executive Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Cllr Mark Murnin, Chair Newry, Mourne and Down District Council; Gina McIntyre, CEO Special EU Programmes Body and Eoin Devlin.

An €8.3m EU funded environmental project, which will help to restore natural habitats and protect endangered species across a range of project sites, will be led by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

The project, known as ‘Collaborative Action for the Natura Network’, or ‘CANN’ for short, is funded by the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The initiative will restore sites throughout Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

The launch event was held on Tuesday, 12 June, in the Nuremore Hotel, Co Monaghan and was attended by representatives from the project’s major funding bodies and partners.

Welcoming the project, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Mark Murnin said, “We are proud to lead this important new project. It will help raise awareness among cross-border communities about the potential threats to natural habitats and endangered species in their area.

Peter Conlon (CANN Finance & Administration Officer), Michael Lipsett (Director of Active and Healthy Communities, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council), Andrew King (Special EU Programmes Body), Eoin Devlin (Assistant Director for Health and Wellbeing, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council). Liam Hannaway (Chief Executive, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council), Catherine Dynes (CANN Communications Officer), Cllr. Mark Murnin (Chairman, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council), Martina Flynn (CANN Project Manager), and Sheena McEldowney (Head of Sustainability, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council).

“Cross-border collaboration is the most effective way for us to protect, improve, restore and sustain the threatened habitats and species in our shared regions.”

Gina McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer of SEUPB said, “The EU is committed to the protection of our shared natural environment across Europe as demonstrated through its Birds and Habitats Directives. Under the current INTERREG VA Programme approximately €84 million has been allocated to support a wide-range of cross-border environmental protection projects.

“This project, CANN, will serve to further this European environmental policy by improving the conservation status of 3,150 hectares of natural habitats found across Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland.”

The CANN Project Team, a team of leading scientists, researchers, local authorities, charities and community organisations, will implement strategies to improve the condition of valuable habitats and help protect the wildlife that lives there. As well, it will work with local people and communities to manage the unique peatland and wetland landscapes along with their iconic species.

Overall, the project will focus on seven protected habitats, as well as seven priority species including birds such as the hen harrier, golden plover and red grouse, insects such as the marsh fritillary butterfly, and freshwater species such as white-clawed crayfish. Locally, designated sites at Lecale Fens and Turmennan are set to benefit from this important scheme.

Match-funding for CANN has been provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in Ireland, and Scottish Natural Heritage.