The GeoparkLIFE Project
GeoparkLIFE is a tourism for conservation programme established by the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark to seek a collaborative balance between the tourism interests and the conservation needs of the Geopark region. To fund the projects work programme the Geopark applied for and was awarded EU LIFE funding of €1.1 million. Matching grant aid is being provided by the projects stakeholders who are from the tourism and conservation fields; Clare County Council, Geological Survey of Ireland, Failte Ireland, National Parks & Wildlife Service, National Monuments Service, Office of Public Works, Heritage Council, National University of Ireland Galway and University College Dublin.
The project began in October 2012 and will be completed by December 2017
The GeoparkLIFE Project aims to strengthen the integration of tourism and natural heritage, reconciling tourism development with conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage in the Burren region, ensuring the Geopark is a vibrant, sustainable, world-class destination. Through the GeoparkLIFE project, we are working on a number of areas to make this a reality.
1. Tourism Enterprises
We are strengthening the capability of enterprises in the Geopark in the following areas: use of natural resources, resource efficiency, use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, waster reduction and carbon footprint reduction.
We will do this through four steps; improving environmental impact, improving economic impact, resource planning for the enterprise and implementing the plan for tourism conservation.
2. Visitor Management
The landscape of the Geopark is a mosaic of specialised natural habitats, hosting unique and varied flora and fauna. Nestled within these habitats is a vast array of archaeological, architectural and cultural heritage sites. We want to maintain this unique landscape while encouraging visitors to view and enjoy it. To do this we are developing monitoring programmes for a number of key sites to allow us to record any negative and/or positive changes that may occur due to recreational pressures and from this we will develop site management strategies. The template that results will be a best practice model which will be transferable to other sites within the Burren and further afield.
3. Conservation Management
We have selected key heritage sites and as part of our management strategies for the sites, we are building up a partnership between the state agencies with responsibility for heritage and the local communities within whose geographical areas these sites are located. Practical training in conservation management is being delivered to the local community through a series of case studies based around these sites. This will develop a skill base within the Burren community, enhancing the capabilities for conservation management and providing an important demonstration project to stimulate further action beyond the life of the project.
Management of the GeoparkLIFE project is through a dedicated unit of Clare County Council, with project decision by a steering group of the main partners, supported by an advisory group of the interested parties.
Organisation of the management of the project is at three levels;
Introducing the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark