Vision of the future for Irelands Mountains and Hills
Yesterday evening we attended Mountaineering Ireland local meeting for its members in the southwest of Ireland at the Oriel Hotel Ballincollig.
The objective of this evening was “How do we as hill walkers and members of Mountaineering Ireland, be the voice for Irelands Mountains”, and develop a new mission statement. To discuss and bring some Blue sky thinking to the problem of erosion of tracks and trails on the mountains and hills by the increased footfall due to a more Active Ireland and growing Walking Tourism.
The increased use of 4×4 vehicles, Quads and the large scale development wind farm projects can also damage the vulnerable upland landscape
In the introduction by Helen Lawless, we heard of some very interesting statistics:
– 5.88 % of our Irish landscape is 300m above sea level
– 0.35 % of our Irish landscape is 600m above sea level
– many of our mountains have a large percentage of blanket bog which has a poor ability to repair itself but accounts for a large carbon absorber.
– 80% of our water comes from our mountains and streams.
-15% of our uplands is state owned, the rest is privately owned land and our accessibility to these lands is only due to the good will of the owners and some existing right of ways.
– Most of this land is farm land, on which a large proportion of aging landowners are involved in farming for their income, not tourism, and the EU subsidies do not take into account their important role as landscape guardians.
Through Agricultural policy we can Influence management of uplands but there is an inspiring success story of the Reeks maintenance project, which employed local farmers to repair the erosion of the track leading into Carrantuohill. This is a pilot program, where the local farming community, through the Reeks access forum, gets additional employment repairing the damage with local materials after training by Scottish teachers.
We at Wild Atlantic Walking Tours want to support and share this vision of respect and careful use of Irelands Mountains into the future to our customers.