Set up in 1997, Creggan Country Park is a water sports, outdoor pursuits, education and environmental facility located on a 100-acre site which separates urban from countryside. The park was created to provide access to outdoor recreation for families on low income, to improve the local environment and make the site safer for the community as it is host to two open reservoirs.
The environment is at the core of everything at Creggan Country Park. From education, awareness, volunteering, biodiversity management, citizen science and renewable energy. The park's mission is to protect our natural heritage, boost local biodiversity and become a working example of how social enterprise can help people and nature simultaneously. People of all ages and backgrounds take part in a range of projects run by Creggan Country Park, including: environmental education for schools and groups (Nature's Classroom) and families (Forest Academy); continuous improvements of the site through planting, removing invasive species and clean ups; action projects to protect priority species and enhance priority habitats including wetland and woodland; upcycling initiatives to transform our old wetsuits into beach blankets and boats into wildflower planters; the Moor Environment Forum activities brings local residents, schools, wildlife groups and community groups together to discuss environmental issues in the local area; Creggan Tree Nursery has been set up to plug the gap in provision of native broadleaf trees for local climate action projects; encouraging participation in environmental volunteering to help the environment and people's health and skills; providing nature therapy to improve people's health and wellbeing; and renewable energy and energy efficiency measures including biomass boiler, a hydroelectric scheme and turf roof
Start with an energy saving policy, upgrade office equipment and lighting before moving on to renewables. When installing renewables get advice from experts and have an energy audit carried out to see what technology suits the building or site. For example, the 20kW wind turbine installed in 2006 is now outdated model and is located too close to the building which is host to bat roosts. We have decided to decommission it and replace with biomass and solar PV on the advice from Action Renewables.
When installing biomass, research the heating needs of the building and get professional advice on the size of boiler and water tank required. Make sure the installer is experienced. Hydro electricity has low maintenance costs but high initial capital installation costs. It would not be suitable for rivers due to impact on wildlife.
If you are a land owner, monitor wildlife annually (bioblitz) and track key species as they can tell a lot about the overall quality of your site. For example, presence of Daubenton's bats at Creggan Country Park indicates good water quality. Partner with community groups and wildlife groups to get the expertise in monitoring wildlife.
Remove invasive species such as Himalayan balsam from the site especially if it is near water as it can spread further, cause soil erosion and flooding paths.
Get local people involved in tree planting, balsam bashing to promote community pride and ownership. Have good volunteer incentives such as lunch and transport provided, reward days and free activities. Get feedback about habitat management and quality of the facilities from visitors and volunteers.
Update the energy saving policy and action plan every two years. Partner with your local council as much as possible to tie in with strategic plans such as a biodiversity action plan.
Number of trees planted every year (500).
Cost savings (£953).
Energy savings per year (4.55 tonnes CO2 and 8708 kWh).
Increase in number of species.
Number of school pupils participating in environmental education programmes (2,000).
Number of visits to the park every year (200,000).