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Continuing to branch out our Biodiversity Action Plan

08 December 2023

Many hands make light work was the theme of the day as 4th and 5th class pupils from St Mary’s Boys National School, Abbeyfeale, Co.  Limerick gave Uisce Éireann a dig out with planting native trees at Rathkeale Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Members of Uisce Éireann’s South West Region Biodiversity Forum, staff from Green Belt Forestry, and Limerick City & County Council, greeted the students on a bright and frosty morning at the treatment plant last week to plant 20 trees in time for Christmas. 

The pupils arrived on site ready to learn more about how wastewater is treated and safely returned into the River Deel, and about the Alder, Oak, Birch and Hazel trees that would soon be thriving in the area. 

Uisce Éireann aims to plant 6,000 native trees at Rathkeale Wastewater Treatment Plant planted over the coming months where it will eventually become a wild and wonderful habitat for Jay Birds and Red Squirrels.   

Speaking at the event, Chair of Uisce Éireann’s South West Region Biodiversity Forum, Anna Brosnan, said

“There are smiles all round today. The boys from 4th and 5th class of St Mary’s in Abbeyfeale have been great today and we have all enjoyed their visit to Rathkeale Wastewater Treatment Plant. For children as young as them, it is inspiring to see how knowledgeable they are about biodiversity. 

“As part of today’s tree planting event, we have also erected a plaque near the boundary of the treatment plant marking the occasion. It is a wonderful thought that in 20 or 30 year’s time, these children might be walking the adjacent Greenway and look up to see the trees they planted when they were young. 

“Trees are the lungs of our planet and without them, we wouldn’t survive. Uisce Éireann treats around 1.7 billion litres of clean drinking water across the country and returns around 1.6 billion litres of treated wastewater safely to the environment every day. This means our sites cross a range of natural habitats and we are delighted when we can expand these habitats further by planting more trees for example.”

Anna added: “By planting 6,000 native trees and putting a stop to the regular mowing of the grass at the treatment plant, Rathkeale Wastewater Treatment Plant will soon become home to even more different types of wildlife and insects. 

“Uisce Éireann recognises the urgent need to increase our efforts to halt the decline of biodiversity. We are committed to building infrastructure that protects and, where possible, enhances our ecosystems. By reducing the number of times we cut our grass on-site, and in our gardens at home, we are giving plants more time to flower, and in turn more chances for pollinators to survive. Planting native trees are also essential for storing green house gasses, improving water quality and enhancing biodiversity. We can all play our part in protecting and enhancing biodiversity.”

The children’s teacher, Julie Moloney, was delighted to see her pupils getting some ‘hands on’ experience when it comes to biodiversity saying,

“Being a Green School is something we take pride in, and our pupils are very enthusiastic about it. A thriving natural environment helps provide us with food, quality drinking water and clean air. The tree planting was a great hands-on experience for our 4th and 5th class pupils. The children really try to promote protecting nature and they would encourage every person to play their part. People may think their garden is too small, or their garden will look messy if they let the grass grow long, but by just being more conscious of wildlife and changing our habits, it will have a massive impact.”

Find out more about Uisce Éireann’s Biodiversity Action Plan at

Michael O'Halloran and Gerry O'Connor , 4th Class St Mary's BNS Abbeyfeale with their teacher Rebecca Carroll and Anna Brosnan from Uisce Éireann

Stamping out the problem. Richard O'Brien, 4th Class St Mary's BNS Abbeyfeale planting a tree with Uisce Éireann’s Biodiversity Officer, David Fallon.

Say trees! Staff from Uisce Éireann, Green Belt Forestry, and Limerick City & County Council with pupils and staff from St Mary’s BNS