Minister launches plan to conserve Irish national heritage

A five-year management plan for Wicklow Mountains National Park was launched by Irish Environment Minister Dick Roche at the official opening of the park's headquarters at Kilafin this week.

The park's management plan was finalised following a lengthy consultation between the Department for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government's (DEHLG) National Park and Wildlife Service, the Wicklow Mountains National Park (WMNP) Council and the public.

It is the first Management Plan to be published as part of DEHLG's current management planning strategy for Ireland's six national parks.

"This plan provides a platform for the introduction of strategies which have a strong emphasis on the conservation of our natural heritage while encouraging public appreciation of that heritage," Mr Roche explained.

"It encourages sustainable recreational and educational use of the park and provides information and facilities for visitors that will increase awareness of our natural heritage, as well as facilitating the research which is essential in achieving our commitments to conservation."

During the first year of the plan, the main objectives will include:

  • The continuation of pathworks and the completion of stone pitching of the White Route at Glendalough;
  • The mapping, checking and auditing of the park's access points and boundaries;
  • Carrying out an access audit of the park for visitors with disabilities or limited mobility, as well as work to promote a universally accessible nature trail;
  • The preparation of a vegetation map of the park;
  • Construction of a new bridge at Bolger's Cottage to provide improved accessability;
  • The launch of a 'wild camping code' for the park in conjunction with the Irish Mountaineering Council and other groups; and
  • The Preparation of a hydrology report for Shranamuck, with a view to restoring the habitat to its previous pre-cutting state.

    In order to implement the plan, around 18 personnel will be based at the park, and a total budget of €1.75 million will be used to support the initiative - representing a 67% increase in the park's budget from 2005.

    By Jane Kettle

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