The GeoparkLIFE Project
GeoparkLIFE was 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 was provided by the projects stakeholders 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
- University College Dublin.
The project began in October 2012 and was completed in December 2017. It was steered by a committee of stakeholders that included the co-funders and representatives of tourism and conservation groups living and working in the Geopark.
The Project objective of of seeking ways to reconcile tourism development with the conservation of natural and cultural heritage was approached in three ways:
- By working with tourism enterprises to enhance conservation actions and develop a sustainable approach to tourism.
- By working with tourism and conservation agencies to manage tourism at sites of high natural and cultural conservation value.
- By working with agencies, businesses and community groups to test tourism and conservation policy on the ground and to build their skills in working productively together in conservation management.
Project Summary and Policy Reports
The project summary report can be found below.
Summary Report Policy review summary Policy review full document
The Projects Work Programme and Outputs
1. Working with Tourism Enterprises
The GeoparkLIFE steering group and project team opted to work with an existing business network with an interest in sustainable tourism, the Burren Ecotourism Network. Working with a local network of businesses encouraged a collective approach and provided a structure and platform for local businesses. This partnership developed a destination approach, a destination brand and a marketing strategy centred on the Geopark and it’s sustainable tourism approach.
- A guide on our approach to working with tourism enterprises
- A Code of Practice for Sustainable Tourism suitable for a network of tourism enterprises looking to work together in a designated region was developed.
- A series of businesses in the Geopark trained and implementing sustainable practices.
- The businesses progress in implementing environmental practices was documented in a series of case studies in 2014 as part of a GeoparkLIFE awards programme that celebrated their achievements
- A further selection of case studies on the impact implementing the Geopark Code of Practice were produced in 2017 as part of the GeoparkLIFE awards programme for recognising good environmental practices among Geopark partner businesses
- Videos of the 2014 case studies were produced:
2. Management of Tourism at Heritage Sites
The GeoparkLIFE steering committee selected seven demonstration sites within the Burren to design and test integrated approaches to their management. The selected sites demonstrated a wide geographical spread of diverse monuments and habitats, various management regimes and ownership. They are all popular visitor destinations, attracting varying types and numbers of visitors.
- A guide to approach the integrated management of heritage sites and monuments
- A visitor management plan template for heritage sites
- A series of management proposals for the 7 GeoparkLIFE demonstrations sites:
- A monitoring app for heritage sites, monuments and trails
- The Geoparks heritage data available to all on the Heritage Map viewer
- The project explored a universal access heritage education programme at the demonstration sites and documented the pilot programme:
3. Conservation Management
Through the GeoparkLIFE project we worked to develop the skills base of our stakeholders in the understanding, management and conservation of the natural and cultural heritage of the Geopark region. We are built partnerships between the state agencies with responsibility for heritage and conservation and the local communities looking to care for their heritage. Through a series of case study projects. This will develop a skill base within the Geopark community, enhancing the capabilities for conservation management and providing important demonstration projects to stimulate further action beyond the life of the GeoparkLIFE project.
- A destination managers guide to Developing Stakeholder Partnership Skills
- A series of checklists for implementing the community conservation programmes piloted under GeoparkLIFE:
- Management of Monuments by Community Groups
- Adopt a Hedgerow: Tourism Businesses maintaining their local environs
- Meitheal: Tourism Businesses giving back to local landowners
- Improving biodiversity though the Tidy Towns competition
- Leave No Trace: Integrating an international code of practice into local sustainable strategies
- A toolkit for implementing an integrated catchment management environmental awareness initiative with second level students
- The integrated catchment management project also produced a practical guide to using QGIS
- A video documenting the Meitheal case study was produced in 2014
Measuring and monitoring was core to the GeoparkLIFE project. At the outset of the project there was an absence of solid baseline data on the impacts tourism was having on our heritage sites, our landscape, and on our communities. The project commissioned a number of reports and undertook several surveys and studies to provide us with a rounded view of the tourism pressures that exist in the Geopark. Click here for all the reports commissioned and produced through the GeoparkLIFE project