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The Work of the Reserves Committee

 

Acquiring and managing land for nature conservation is one of our key objectives. To meet this objective, we are actively seeking opportunities to become involved in practical nature conservation management. We have a nature reserve policy that sets out the criteria that we use for identifying potentially suitable sites. We have been working with Coillte, Cork City Council, Cork County Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service and private landowners to develop nature reserve projects at specific sites. We currently have two projects underway and a number of other projects in various stages of development. We have been allocated grant-aided funding of 15,000 Euro to date towards this work.






Why do we need Nature Reserves?

 

by Dr Tom Gittings

 

Most sites of national or international nature conservation importance in Ireland are now covered by nature conservation designations (NHAs, SACs and SPAs) but very few of these areas are formal nature reserves. While the designation of these sites is a means of protecting the site from development, many sites require active management in order to maintain their important habitats and species. Other sites may be in degraded condition and require management to restore them to prime condition. There is limited time and resources for the state nature conservation agency (National Parks and Wildlife Service) to carry out this kind of management. The County Nature Trust will, therefore, seek to develop nature reserves in sites where active management intervention is required to maintain or restore the nature conservation status of important habitats and species.

 

Unlike most other European countries, Ireland does not have any system for designating sites that are of regional or local importance for nature conservation. This means that such sites are routinely threatened by development, and often their importance is not realised until they are the subjects of a development proposal. These sites are also similarly in need of active management, but are even less likely to receive this. The European Union Habitats Directive recognises that effective nature conservation requires wider countryside measures to support the network of designated sites. The County Nature Trust will, therefore, seek to develop nature reserves in sites of regional or local importance for nature conservation to promote nature conservation in the wider countryside.

Public support for nature conservation is essential. We believe that providing the public with opportunities to view wildlife and learn about nature is the best way to achieve this public support. This can be done by providing facilities such as hides that provide close-up views of birds, nature trails through woodlands and grasslands with colourful flowers and insects, and interpretative material that identifies and places in context what the visitor is seeing. However, there are very few such facilities in Ireland. The County Nature Trust will, therefore, seek to develop nature reserves in sites where there is full public access, typical habitats and species can be viewed by the public, and nature conservation management techniques can be demonstrated.

 
We are always keen to hear of potential sites where there may be an opportunity to develop a nature reserve. If you know of any such site, please get in touch.

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