The Collaborative Action for the Natura Network (CANN) project aims to restore natural habitats and protect endangered species across a range of sites in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Eleven partners are involved in this unique project that is funded by the EU’s Interreg VA Programme and has a total value of €8.3m. The CANN project team is a collaboration of leading scientists, researchers, local authorities, charities, and community organisations led by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. All partners are working to improve the conservation status of more than 3,000 hectares of natural habitats across Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland and Western Scotland. 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 the white-clawed crayfish.

ACT is one of the eleven project partners. Our work is focused on two peatland sites on the island of Islay – Duich Moss and the Rinns. Sarah Edwards is our CANN site co-ordinator and Deb Baker is our CANN support officer. Activities at project sites on Islay are primarily focused on controlling invasive species, reducing herbivore damage and collecting environmental data. So far, activities have included the development of a deer management plan, bird surveys, butterfly surveys, surveys for invasive rhododendron, and removal of conifer saplings and small rhododendrons from Duich Moss. The works have been completed by project staff, contractors and volunteers.

Although the overall aims of the eleven project partners are the same, the sites in different countries have different tasks and priorities. These include an innovative scientific trial to remove invasive waterweed from a freshwater lake, a bog moss restoration trial, and field surveys which have resulted in the discovery of the first ever record of the rare Desmoulin’s whorl snail in Northern Ireland. More details about the activities of the wider CANN partnership can be found in their latest newsletter: CANN_newsletter_-_Dec_2018.pdf.

Volunteers removing conifer saplings from Duich Moss

Marsh fritillary butterfly (photo: Peter Eeles)