News 2019

Title:  Ireland’s uplands - places of potential
Date:  01/11/2019

Ireland’s uplands - places of potential

A new all-island, socio-economic profile of Ireland’s upland areas, commissioned by the Irish Uplands Forum, highlights Ireland’s upland areas as national assets and emphasises the need for policies that respond to upland strengths and challenges.

The report was launched in the Royal Irish Academy this week by Virginia Teehan, the CEO of the Heritage Council.

The report provides an overview of the status of Ireland’s uplands, across a broad range of indicators, providing a strong evidence base for policymakers to enhance our uplands as living communities.

The report illustrates the inter-dependencies between upland areas and lowland populations.

Not surprisingly, it shows that those uplands areas which are better connected with urban centres have a stronger demographic profile and greater economic activity. Uplands in Northern Ireland emerge as being more dynamic and vibrant than those in the Republic.

A strong theme in the report is the potential for sustainable management of upland areas to enhance the provision of vital public goods, such as water supply, flood attenuation, carbon storage and recreation experiences, for the benefit of all our population.

Land in Ireland’s upland areas is in the main, privately owned, either individually or jointly. Yet, our uplands are significant national assets, and investment in sustaining them is in our collective interest. At a time of climate crisis, and with traditional hillfarming in serious decline, there could be a new, valuable role for upland farmers in improving the natural resilience of our upland landscapes.

Currently there is no national policy for Irelands’ uplands; the focus remains sectoral, across many areas including agriculture, environment, planning, recreation and tourism.

The report calls for an integrated policy approach to the uplands, with upland partnership groups, such as the Wicklow Uplands Council, having a central role.

Welcoming the report on behalf of Mountaineering Ireland, Helen Lawless highlighted the need to invest in looking after upland areas, including to address the erosion arising from increased footfall on the mountains, and the need for core funding for upland partnership groups. Helen called on the Irish Uplands Forum to bring together a coalition of interests in the uplands to agree the specific policy measures that are needed.

A Profile of Ireland’s Uplands was authored by Dr Brendan O’Keeffe and Dr Caroline Crowley. The report, which was produced with funding assistance from the Heritage Council, can be downloaded from the Irish Upland Forum’s website - https://irishuplandsforum.org/publications/

Photo: Frank Nugent, Chairperson of the Irish Uplands Forum, with Virginia Teehan, CEO of the Heritage Council at this week’s launch

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