Students from NUI Galway's discipline of geography have teamed up with the Galway City Council's recreation and amenity department and local residents to promote awareness and combat the threat to Galway's marine and coastal environments.
The ‘I Like Beaches’ project which was developed through NUI Galway's Explore programme, aims to provide visitors and users of Galway city beaches access to scientific information about the coast, how it works, and what poses a threat to it.
The team, in partnership with Galway City Council, includes two staff members, Dr Eugene Farrell and Dr Kevin Lynch, and five final-year undergraduate students Shaun Byrne, Jennifer Corbett, Jennifer Logan, Aisling Miller, and Michael Murphy from the discipline of geography.
After a public workshop to discuss how best to promote the project, the team created new educational boards which provide information on beaches, dunes, waves, and climate change.
The first four signs were recently installed beside Grattan Beach and it is planned that more signs will be installed near Ladies' Beach and other Galway city beaches.
Dr Eugene Farrell, lecturer in geography at NUI Galway, said: "The information we wanted to provide from this project was answers to questions such as 'What is a beach?' 'How do sand dunes grow?' 'What live on the beach?' and how they impact the coastal and marine environments. Everyone knows what a beach is but many do not know how they work, so the end goal is for people to understand more about the coast so people will take ownership of it. But to do that you need to build people's appreciation of the environment and one of the ways of doing this was putting up these signs.
"We are very happy with the signs but for me they are just a stepping stone. This is just the first step of an idea on increasing awareness of our coast and how complex it is, but also how vulnerable it is and the different pressures it experiences; whether it is coming from the sea or from humans."
Speaking about the city council's involvement and the Explore programme run by NUI Galway Dr Farrell said: "We are especially grateful that Eamon Daveron and Eithne Murphy from Galway City Council’s recreation and amenity department have been involved in every step of the project.
"With my partner Dr Kevin Lynch, we submitted the project to the Explore programme in NUI Galway which matches up students and staff with ideas which are focused around giving back to the community and we had a massive interest from our geography students. We signed on five who did the brunt of the work. We hope that programmes like Explore continue to be supported by NUI Galway."
Eamon Daveron of Galway City Council said: We are very happy about how the project has played out so far. We are trying to get more information to the public and more interaction from them with the beaches and coastline. It is a step by step campaign so we are hoping to include other beaches and other features as we go along. We intend to put signs on Ladies' Beach, Silverstrand, and Ballyloughane beaches eventually."
The ‘I Like Beaches’ team and Galway City Council are also looking for feedback from the public. To leave feedback visit the ‘I Like Beaches’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ILikeBeachesGalway/