Lough Erne £2.6m funding boost in bid to preserve beauty
One of Northern Ireland's favourite beauty spots has been given £2.6m in funding.
The National Lottery investment will help protect and conserve Lough Erne and its surroundings for years to come.
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) confirmed the award for the new Landscape Partnership project at Lough Erne, led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds NI (RSPB NI).
The beautiful Fermanagh Lakeland landscape consists of numerous islands, long shorelines and waterways.
It is home to an array of internationally important species and habitats, and contains a wealth of natural, built, archaeological, cultural and industrial heritage spanning 9,000 years.
The Lough Erne Landscape Partnership (LELP) plans to deliver 23 individual projects to improve access, protect habitats and species and engage communities with the heritage in 500 square kilometres of landscape.
It will support an innovative partnership approach to the ongoing, integrated management of the natural environment, led by the RSPB NI in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Waterways Ireland, Fermanagh Rural Community Network, Upper Lough Erne Tourism Development Association, and the National Trust.
Funding for LELP was awarded through HLF's Landscape Partnership programme.
Paul Mullan, who is head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: "The Fermanagh Lakelands are an area of breath taking beauty, rich in history and culture and treasured as a space for relaxation and enjoyment.
"However, the area has suffered from habitat loss and species decline, largely due to the lack of a co-ordinated management strategy.
"So we are delighted that, thanks to National Lottery players, RSPB NI and partners can progress their vision for the area, safeguarding the landscape and reconnecting people to the heritage of this amazing landscape."
Activities will include the creation of trails and walkways to improve access.
Invasive species will be better managed in order to allow the native plants to thrive and conservation works will support the breeding populations of waders such as curlew, snipe, and lapwing, which have seen a decline of more than 80% over the last 30 years.