SECAD Partnership was delighted to welcome An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D. to Fota House to celebrate our Wild Work Biodiversity Programme. We also welcomed Cllr Sheila O’Callaghan, deputising for the Mayor of the County of Cork and members of Cork County Council’s Local Community Development Committees (LCDC). We were also joined by our colleagues from Cavan County Local Development and West Limerick Resources, citizen scientists and ecology experts to celebrate our award-winning biodiversity training programme, which is designed to help people, help nature, help people.
Formed in 2017 by SECAD Partnership, Wild Work has now evolved into an innovative co-operation project which has seen its reach expand from South and West Cork into Cavan and West Limerick thanks to a pilot-partnership with Cavan County Local Development and West Limerick Resources which is supported through the LEADER Programme. Delivered across 20 locations, the current Wild Work training programme now has almost 500 participants.
The Partnership between Cork, West Limerick and County Cavan is developing a range of tools that will in time make it possible for Local Development Partnerships across Ireland to coordinate a multi-layered, multi-sectoral and integrated approach to enable communities, urban and rural, to take their place as leading agents for the restoration of biodiversity on this Island.
Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens is also a Wild Work programme participant, and everyone present at the event were treated to a preview of one of the innovations to emerge from the project, an epic new virtual reality experience which brings nature to life for all. The immersive experience takes viewers on a journey of discovery through Irish woodlands and meadows, through the seasons, stopping along the way to learn about flora and fauna and the ways in which we can all help to nurture habitats that sustain our unique biodiversity. Much of the information contained within the hotspots along the way was created by current Wild Work participants.
Congratulating project partners SECAD Partnership, Cavan County Local Development and West Limerick Resources on their collaboration, Taoiseach Micheál Martin T.D. said:
“Wild Work is an exceptional example of a co-operation project that is delivering real, tangible results on the ground, empowering others to continue the work long after the training programme ends. It is an important tool in terms of our local and national response to the climate emergency and complements the efforts of other groups, agencies and individuals.
The new virtual reality experience highlights ways in which technology can enable people to connect with nature, facilitating learning, fostering a love for the outdoors, and nurturing an understanding about the way in which our flora, fauna and habitats support our people, our communities, and the places in which we all work and live.
The collaborative efforts of SECAD Partnership, Cavan County Local Development and West Limerick Resources are to be commended and I would encourage the partners to continue to expand this important programme into other parts of the country.”
Designed by expert ecologists, the Wild Work training programme integrates the use of innovative virtual and augmented technologies with practical outdoor classroom and on-line learning modules to help trainees to focus on how best to support local biodiversity and experience mental and physical health benefits as a result of taking part in positive environmental actions.
Cllr Sheila O’Callaghan, deputising for the Mayor of the County of Cork, added her congratulations saying:
“Each and every person right across the country has a role to play in protecting nature. Here in County Cork, we are already reaping the rewards of the Wild Work Programme through an increased investment, both in terms of money and time, in nature-based initiatives which contribute to an environmental, economic and wellbeing dividend for individuals, organisations and communities.
Cork County Council, via both the South and West Cork LCDC, were delighted to play their part in the approval of this project for LEADER funding of €400k in Cork County and are delighted to be part of this great initiative.”
The current Wild Work training programme commenced in April 2022. Participants include individuals, community and voluntary groups, farmers, teachers, pupils and parents, the business community and managers of public amenities drawn from across South Cork, West Cork, Cavan and West Limerick.
Ryan Howard, CEO, SECAD Partnership said that “today recognises the immense work and energy invested in the Wild Work Programme, its expansion, and evolution.
The purpose of Wild Work is simple: we want to help people, help nature, help people. Sustainability is at its core and, since the programme was first designed, we have provided more than 200 education and awareness sessions, delivered more than 5,000 consultation hours, sown over 18,000 m2 of native wildflowers, and developed more than 50 nature-friendly landscaping projects.
The Wild Work training integrates online learning with practical outdoor classroom learning, focusing on how best to support local biodiversity and experience mental and physical health benefits as a result of taking part in positive environmental actions. The inclusion of innovative virtual reality experiences brings our toolkit to a new level, embracing the technological world to help us support the natural environment.”
Wild Work Biodiversity Programme
The Wild Work Biodiversity training is being delivered over six core modules, linked to the landscape and biodiversity features. These modules are:
- The history of biodiversity in the Irish landscape.
- The Wild Work philosophy and ethos.
- The importance of biodiversity for well-being.
- Biodiversity-friendly habitat management practices for meadows, woodlands and streams.
- The role of citizen science monitoring.
- How the Wild Work Framework will function to support biodiversity action into the future.
The Wild Work in Action training in South and West Cork comprises training in Wellness, Citizen Science. Wild Work in Action training in West Limerick focuses on biodiversity corridors for pollinators and people. Wild Work in Action training in Cavan focuses on the creation of native wildflower seed banks. Training in the Biodiversity Management of Public Lands will take place across all four areas.
- A Junior Wild Workers online training programme for schools and youth groups is also be developed.
- Additionally, a Wild Work Toolkit is being developed containing an exciting range of e-learning activities to support the learning, added to by the participants themselves as they experience the training in their own place.
- The Wild Work Training Programme is being delivered in outdoor classrooms, online and using specially created virtual reality experiences.
- The team commissioned by Wild Work to deliver the training is an innovative Irish female led high potential start up (www.veri.ie) and more information for group bookings or the training experts can be had on the programmes from Josephine@veri.ie
- Emagine have been commissioned to produce two spectacular meadow and woodland virtual reality experiences each containing a number of different locations depicted in a 360-degree fully 3D view. The viewer will be able to access a series of hotspots containing information relating to the Wild Work training programme in the form of images, video and audio content, delivering an innovative and immersive experience.
- The Wild Work Co-operation Project is supported through the LEADER Co-operation budget as a LEADER Inter-territorial project.
- The three Local Development Companies deliver LEADER as Implementing Partners for the Local Action Groups in South and West Cork, Limerick and Cavan in conjunction with the Local Community Development Committees and Cork County Council, Limerick City and County Council and Cavan County Council.
- LEADER 2014-2020 is funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development-Europe Investing in Rural Area.
For more information, go to www.wildwork.ie