Some 90 people were in attendance at the farm walk beside Lough Funshinagh, including locals, Macra na Feirme members and local politicians.
The attendees got an opportunity to see firsthand what was happening on the ground and heard of the threat of the expanding turlough to farmland, houses and the environment.
The turlough, which has almost trebled in size over the past number of years, has now submerged over 1,300 acres of land. This is 800 acres more than it historically covered at this time of year.
The area under water has increased since 2015, with levels in the turlough currently at the same height as they were on 12 December 2020.
The attendees at the walk were told that with the levels already very high, there is a real and imminent danger that homes and farmlands will be submerged in the weeks and months to come.
Some locals’ homes are already under threat, with water only a short distance from their doors.
During the walk, the attendees were shown hedgerows that have been destroyed by the rising waters with a huge loss of habitat for birds and insects. A forest planted some decades ago to sequester and store carbon is wilting and dying due to submerged roots. Grassland that was home to over 100 travelling hooper swans is completely submerged with the swans not returning to lands they had visited for generations.
The impact from the flooding is having a major effect on both the people living around the turlough and also the environment. The rising floodwaters will only continue to destroy habitats and carbon stores while reversing generations of progress and development by the farmers affected.
A potential solution, an overflow pipe, has been partially completed but has been halted due to legal objection.
The residents and farmers need urgent action to prevent the crisis becoming worse, leading to an environmental and humanitarian emergency. Intervention is needed from the Government to resolve the issue for both the benefit of the people and the environment.
Attendees left the farm walk unable to stand by and allow the crisis to worsen as every passing day brings with it stress and worry to those who live on the shore of Lough Funshinagh.