Protection and Sustainable use of Water Resources
Greater protection of local water resources is important for sustaining rural communities. Environmental schemes have the potential to play a pivotal role in addressing pressures on water reserves and in supporting the local community to conserve this valuable resource. Actions funded under this sub-theme may include –
- raising general awareness on water conservation issues,
- the development of local water conservation plans and feasibility studies;
- capacity building on the technical aspects of water recycling schemes and
- initiatives that conserve water, for example, community programmes for rain water harvesting and the use of greywater for fertiliser and general washing.
Protection and Improvement of Local Biodiversity
Biodiversity encompasses natural wildlife, flora and fauna and is an important foundation to the healthy functioning of ecosystems. The protection of biodiversity is a growing concern, with the loss of various species of wildlife, flora and fauna as well as their natural habitat. Factors that impact on local biodiversity include human population growth, cutting hedgerows and changes in land usage.
Actions that promote local biodiversity might include –
- awareness raising and practical guidance on how to protect biodiversity domestically;
- feasibility studies and action plans in respect of larger scale projects that enhance and protect particular aspects of biodiversity; and
- local initiatives that support biodiversity and environmental improvements, for example, the upgrading of parks and river walks, establishment of nature corridors, habitat creation and planting of native species.
Development of Renewable Energy
Clean sources of energy have a lower environmental impact on nature than conventional energy technologies. This sub-theme seeks to mitigate the impact of recent environmental trends, including climate change. Community-based initiatives will play a key role in realising national and EU environmental targets, particularly in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through energy infrastructure. Renewable energy technologies may also generate new employment opportunities in rural areas.
Actions might include –
- general awareness raising on environmental issues and feasibility studies relating to green technologies;
- capacity building actions focusing on the installation and use of renewable energy technologies; and
- local projects involving technologies that deliver sustainable energy alternatives, for example, biomass heating, solar power, community wind farms and community-based heating systems.
Further guidance is available at https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/business-friendly-environment/sme-definition/index_en.htm.
e.g. traditional crafts, new media and design
 CEDRA, Energising Ireland’s Rural Economy, 2014