£3m Heritage Lottery Fund grant to protect Lough Erne
A near-£3m Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant is set to boost wildlife and conserve tradition at Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh.
Up to 400 local people will be trained in centuries-old skills such as thatching and boat building, as well as storytelling.
New paths, bird hides and campsites will be provided to offer better access to the lough and there will be festivals, exploring days and events.
The area has more than 100 scheduled monuments spanning 900 years, many in serious disrepair. The project will protect and preserve them.
Paul Mullan, who heads the HLF in Northern Ireland, said: "We believe that it will make a huge contribution to preserving a unique place which is full of history, helping local people reconnect to the beauty on their doorsteps and encourage more visitors.
"It will also grow the local economy in a rural area by reintroducing traditional crafts and increasing tourism."
The £2.9m is to go to the Lough Erne Landscape Partnership, which is led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
It will be used to conserve at-risk heritage buildings, preserve and improve wildlife species and their habitats and better manage a 500sq km area of Fermanagh's lakelands.
A total of 200 local volunteers will work on the project.
The area is a breeding ground for wading birds such as curlew, snipe and lapwing whose populations have decreased dramatically by 83% in 30 years.
Better land management and tackling invasive species which devastate plant and animal life are part of the plan, while ancient woodlands and hedgerows will be restored and maintained.