The Burren Connect Project said that an increasing number of visitors to the Burren were erecting the stone structures and unwittingly engaging in environmental vandalism. The project claims that the erection of hundreds of stone structures at the lands adjacent to a viewing point at Ballyallaban, near Ballyvaughan, has damaged the surrounding limestone pavement.
Carol Gleeson, Project Manager with The Burren Connect Project said: “Unique and vulnerable habitats are being destroyed by visitors when they illegally remove protected limestone pavement to build miniature dolmens and other stone structures. However, we believe that most visitors do not want to deliberately damage the Burren pavements, as they do not realise the full environmental impacts of their actions.”
She continued: “We must approach and deal with this issue as with any case of vandalism. The most effective way to do this is to remove the structures as they appear and increase public awareness. The Burren Connect team hopes that the newly launched environmental maintenance programme, combined with existing education projects, website campaigns, publications and information points across the Burren will help raise awareness amongst visitors of the need to treat the landscape with respect and to abide by the Burren Code, which basically promotes the Leave No Trace ethos.”
The new environmental maintenance programme was launched today at Ballyallaban where 5th and 6th class students of Ballyvaughan and Lisdoonvarna primary schools, local landowners, and officials from The Burren Connect Project and Clare County Council commenced the process of removing the mini Dolmens.
According to Carol Gleeson: “It is great that local children are involved with this project as it promotes a sense of informed pride and ownership for the Burren. We are already working with these schools on other environmental educational projects. The maintenance crew and students were instructed how to remove the stones by Clare County Council Heritage Officer Conjella McGuire, Biodiversity Officer Shane Casey and Burren Connect Geologist Dr. Ronan Hennessey. The maintenance crew will continue to monitor this site regularly to prevent this situation arising again.”
“We will review the effectiveness of the pilot programme after a period of time and, if successful, we will seek to secure long term funding to ensure its continuation and expansion”, noted Ms. Gleeson.
Local landowner Mary Davoren O’Regan welcomed the launch of the new initiative and expressed her hope that it would help prevent further unnecessary damage to the Burren’s limestone pavement. She added: “Most of the Burren is private property and landowners would appreciate it if visitors respected this fact. It is very frustrating to have your property damaged in such a way. We are in a unique and special area that is protected by EU legislation and I wish visitors had a better understanding of the fragility of the pavements and how important it is to care for this special landscape.”
The Burren Connect Project is funded and supported by the Fáilte Ireland National Development Fund, Clare County Council, Shannon Development, National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Geological Survey of Ireland, the Heritage Council and Burrenbeo Trust. The key aim of the project is to ensure the sustainable use of the Burren as a tourism destination, through a coordinated approach to visitor management and environmental protection.
The Burren Code promotes a number of key messages and guidelines to the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the Burren each year. They include: leave the limestone pavement as they find it; preserve natural habitats and leave wildflowers undisturbed;
For further information visit www.burrenconnect.ie.
Notes To Editor:
- Photograph and interview opportunities may be arranged on request. Please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or email@example.com
- Images of today’s launch event are available on request from Eamon Ward (087-2337975)
Dunphy Public Relations
Connolly, Ennis, Co Clare, IRELAND