EU in my Region: GREENHEALTH project launch in Kinlough, Co. Leitrim

  • EU Project GREENHEALTH launched in Leitrim
  • GREENHEALTH explores management of nature parks to maximise their contribution to citizens’ well-being, without compromising environmental objectives
  • Irish representatives will showcase Good Practice examples and run a tour of the county’s local natural amenities

Local stakeholders and community members were invited to attend the regional launch of the GREENHEALTH Project. The project launch event was held in the Kinlough Community Centre and opened by local Leitrim County Councillor (Elected Member) Justin Warnock. Cllr Warnock spoke of the importance of the regional involvement in the project and in the community interest in obtaining a special designation for the surrounding landscape of North Leitrim, including Lough Melvin.

Conall McGettigan, Assistant Director of the Northern & Western Regional Assembly welcomed all in attendance and explained that this unique initiative is an Interreg Europe project that is co- funded by the European Union and the Northern and Western Regional Assembly and is part of a joint aim to develop interregional cooperation and help local authorities improve regional development policies. In addition, the project will support the objectives of the Regional Spatial & Economic Strategy (RSES), the regional policy instrument, specifically its Regional Policy Objective 5.3, which states:

‘The Assembly supports the consideration of the zone of: (i) North Sligo/North Leitrim (Benbulbin and its hinterland); and (ii) The area surrounding and including Lough Arrow/Lough Key as potential National Parks/National Recreation Areas.

It supports collaboration in this regard with stakeholders including NPWS, Local Authorities, Dept. of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’.

And RPO 5.5:

‘Ensure efficient and sustainable use of all our natural resources, including inland waterways, peatlands, and forests in a manner which ensures a healthy society a clean environment and there is no net contribution to biodiversity loss arising from development supported in this strategy. Conserve and protect designated areas and natural heritage area. Conserve and protect European sites and their integrity.’

The GREENHEALTH project is aligned with these RSES policy objectives as it focuses on maintaining sustainable protected areas across regions of the EU whilst recognising that the enjoyment of these natural spaces hold a particular value for human well-being with significant health benefits. The project specifically aims to improve the management of the European Protected Areas by strengthening the strategic and operational collaboration between regional actors, environmental policy and local health initiatives. A key objective of the project is to explore ideas and develop measures that both protect natural habitats’ biodiversity and ensure these spaces are accessible and continue to be enjoyed, maximising their positive impact on human health and well-being.

At the launch event, Guest Speaker Michael Hegarty, Geopark Manager in the Joyce Country & Western Lakes Geopark project addressed the group and spoke about the development of the Geopark park and the creation of Joyce Country & Western Lakes GeoEnterprise and how this project fuses the natural environment, people and sustainable development in the areas.


The GREENHELTH Project partners, by coming together over the course of this 4-year project, will engage in a core exercise of policy exchange and peer learning to improve the management of regional parks and nature reserves. The partners will learn about Good Practice examples from each region and attend workshops and study visits. Irish representatives will showcase the Good Practice example of Slow Adventure Tourism in Leitrim and run a tour of the county’s local natural amenities at a hosting event in May 2024.

About the Northern and Western Regional Assembly:

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly is one of three Regional Assemblies in Ireland that collectively represent the regional tier of government. As a regional authority the NWRA is part of the local government sector and comprises nine constituent local authorities. The NWRA’s vision is to craft a creative, vibrant, low-carbon regional economy building on the strengths of the Northern and Western region of Ireland. The NWRA works with regional and local actors to create better places and to enhance competitiveness through policies that build resilience and sustainability, contributing to regional development. The work of the NWRA is driven by the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) which is a 10-year Plan for the Northern & Western Region of Ireland. It is designed to set out the detail on how the National Planning Framework is to be implemented at a County Level. In addition to this, the Strategy also clearly identified the outstanding landscapes and natural resources which are a key characteristic and asset to the Region, with a number of National Parks, a long coastline, and a very extensive network of Natura 2000 sites, which are protected under European Law. (Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas). Chapter 5 of the RSES sets out the goals of the Assembly in terms of ensuring a healthy society. It also aims to develop awareness and create a greater appreciation of the benefits of our natural heritage, including on the health.

The NWRA involvement in the project, will specially target RPOs 5.2 (related to landscapes’ protection and conservation; regarding coordination between local authorities and promotion of improved landscape management and destination), RPO 5.3 (which consider the declaration of new protected parks/recreational sites), RPO 5.5 (aiming to ensure efficient and sustainable use of natural resources) and RPO 6.6 (focused on developing awareness of the benefits of natural heritage, including health, wealth and well-being).

More information:


  • Eimear Dowd, Regional Development Manager, NWRA,; Tel: 086 783 7759
  • Charlotte May, EU Projects Officer, NWRA,; Tel: 087 75 25 977