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Researching Kildare's Public Open Spaces

In line with its ongoing commitment to meaningful climate action, Kildare County Council has partnered with Maynooth University to develop a funded Masters by Research Programme.
 
This two-year structured programme will investigate sustainable open space management in Kildare with a focus on biodiversity-promoting management plans.
 
Sophia Couchman has just stepped into this new and important role.
 
Sophia says, ‘I’ve had a strong interest in biodiversity since childhood. My Dad is a farmer in Carlow and his practices around environmental protection were always very progressive.
 
Having travelled a lot as a professional chef, I had the opportunity to experience many different ecosystems.
 
I attended UCC as a mature student, where I earned a degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology. This led to a job working for an engineering firm, advising them on the potential environmental impacts of commercial developments.
 
I spotted Kildare’s Masters by Research programme on Jane Stout’s Twitter feed. Jane is a Professor of Botany at Trinity College whose work I follow.
 
Kildare County Council has identified 30 research sites for investigation, so I’ll be conducting habitat surveys and mapping those as a baseline exercise.
 
The surveys will gather information on the ecology of each site. There may be opportunities for Kildare residents to contribute to that work through citizen science.
 
Those findings will inform biodiversity-promoting maintenance and planting regimes to support the relationships between different species, including food chains.
 
It’s a big piece of work with huge potential. One of my first visits was to the Wonderful Barn site in Leixlip. That’s such a spectacular setting’.
 
Full details of Sophia's research sites can be found at https://bit.ly/OpenSpacePilotProject2021
 
Sophia Couchman Profile Photo
 
 
 

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