New plan to be drawn up for Westfields Wetland

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Westfields Wetlands pic by Meghann Scully

A TEAM of environmental consultants has been employed by Limerick City and County Council to draw up a management plan for Westfields Wetland on the northside of the city by the end of the year.

The Wetland covers around 25 hectares and is part of the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is bounded to the south by the embankment of the River Shannon and the Condell Road and, to the north, by private housing.

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It is widely used as a local amenity and is host to a variety of wildlife, including migrating wildfowl that visit the area. However, there are some challenges for the area, from an amenity and biodiversity perspective, which are to be addressed in the new management plan.

Over the years bulrush growth has encroached around the viewing platform at Westfields Lake, making it more difficult to view duck, swans and other wildfowl. Also, there are invasive alien species in a number of areas around the site, which require careful consideration and management.

Green Party councillor for City North, Sasa Novak believes there is huge potential for enhancing the area for people to enjoy with measures sensitive to the natural environment and biodiversity.

“Westfields is a fantastic amenity for the city and especially for the local residents. I use it almost daily as part of my exercise route,” she told the Limerick Post.

As the area is part of a Special Area of Conservation, she feels it is “essential” that the right balance is found between using it as an amenity for people and preserving the biodiversity.

”I have met with Feidhlim Harty before and he gave me a walking tour of the different sections of the area and explained the issues and strategies of addressing them. I also completed the survey and would encourage everyone with interest in the area to do so.

“There is a huge potential for enhancing the area for the locals to enjoy with measures sensitive to the natural environment and biodiversity. There is a link to the Coonagh Natural Reserve nearby, which in the future would complete a beautiful nature walk or cycle along the Shannon, from Westfields to Coonagh,” she added.

Limerick City and County Council says that input from the public will be invaluable in creating a robust plan for the area. To register your interest and to be kept up to date with news and events about the management plan process visit www.limerick.ie. You can also email [email protected] for more details about the background for the project.