On Friday December 4, Galway Community College (GCC ) will host the official online launch of its three-year Erasmus+ project on locally endangered species and biodiversity loss. This project is a research collaboration of three schools, GCC and schools in Croatia and Spain, working with national wildlife non-Governmental organisations to research and compile information about locally endangered species.
Erasmus+ coordinator at Galway Community College, Tom Flanagan, who will be overseeing the project explains: “This project comes at a time when the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest report states the outlook for Ireland’s environment is not optimistic unless we accelerate the implementation of solutions across all sectors and society. Climate and biodiversity are two of the key challenges we need to address. Projects like this are much needed to raise awareness to help try and halt the continuous degradation of the natural environment.”
This launch will bring together, online, some staff and students from the three schools. Susacka Hrvatska Gimnazija, in Rijeka, Croatia, will work with EKO wildlife, while in Instituto de Educacion Secundaria in Spain, Felix Muriel will work with Sociedade Galega De Historia Natural. Others involved in the launch will include the Irish Wildlife Trust, with which GCC students will be collaborating, MEP Maria Walsh, and EU Commissioner and European vice-president Mairead Mc Guinness, Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard, Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel, and Mayor of Rianxo Adolfo Muinos Sanchez, along with John O'Sullivan from EcoEd4all, an educational initiative. Also joining the launch will be Brendan Smith, veteran environmental activist and local conservationist.
This Erasmus+ project led to Galway Community College being chosen as a ‘champion school’ for the Galway National Park City initiative, led by Brendan Smith, a project initiated and supported by a group of ‘champions’ who are aiming to help Galway to achieve National Park City status.
This Erasmus+ project will involve 15 students from each school who will research and compile information on designed templates for the endangered species including classification, natural history, abundance, causes of decline, and possible corrective actions. Students will also take part in field studies where possible to alleviate physical barriers and fully understand some of the pressures facing these species. These records will be published and disseminated as widely as possible through local media, social media, and through multiplier events held at City Hall once a year. Some audiovisual elements of the project will be filmed, RTE and TG4 have committed to air some of these on young people's TV programmes. Where possible, students will implement recommended corrective actions by working with local council, politicians, influencers, and voluntary groups.
Galway Community College introduced Erasmus+ in 2016; it is a European Union programme for education, training, youth, and sport. It provides funding and support for organisations to operate projects consistent with its objectives and which encourage European exchange, co-operation, and learning. Erasmus+ is funded by the European Union through the contributions of member states, including Ireland.
Students involved in this project are due to visit each other’s countries to share their findings annually, but this element has been delayed due to Covid-19.