Second prize in global mountain protection competition awarded to A Locally Led Agri-Environmental Project in the MacGillycuddy Reeks in Kerry
We, in The MacGillycuddy Reeks EIP project led by South Kerry Development Partnership are delighted to be named Runner-Up as part of the International 2020-2021 UIAA Mountain Protection Award.
A total of 24 projects operational in more than 30 countries and on six continents were showcased as part of 2020-2021 MPA. They represent a range of initiatives including encouraging youth participation, tackling pollution and climate change, creating sustainable national parks, spearheading clean-up campaigns and projects focused on women in mountaineering. The MacGillycuddy Reeks EIP project overcame stiff competition from some of the most well know mountain ranges around the world including The Alpine Club of Canada, The Alps Mountaineering Villages, The Himalayan Togetherness for the Sustainability of the Mountain Trails, the United Kingdom H20 Community Hub Scheme and The South American Clean Mountain Project.
“The project has really gone to great lengths to bring a wide range of different interest groups together working towards one objective and a shared vision: the protection of this important corner of Ireland. Recognition as runner-up to the 2020-2021 MPA Award, will help to showcase this project widely and show how other areas in similar situations can work towards protecting our mountain habitats.” - Björn Alfthan, UIAA Mountain Protection Award External Assessor and Senior Mountain Expert at GRID-Arendal.
Patricia Deane who works for local development company South Kerry Development Partnership as Project Manager of the EIP project says that ‘all involved- the Operational Group, Reeks Forum, our farmers, local collective groups and communities are undeniably thrilled and extremely proud of this achievement. It is great to have recognition of all the hard work and effort carried out over the past years by all involved, and demonstrates what locally led bottom-up approaches can achieve’. The MacGillycuddy Reeks is an European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Locally Led Scheme, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine as part of Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.
When Ms. Deane was asked what did she hope the recognition from the UIAA Mountain Protection Awards brings to the project she stated ‘We hope it will provide inspiration and show other groups what can be achieved when interested people come together. We hope the recognition will further motivate us to continue growing our project and demonstrate to Government departments and the EU the importance of projects such as these to be supported, encouraged and expanded into the future’.
The project is working with landowners on the MacGillycuddy Reeks who are facing increasingly difficult challenges in farming. Farming in this unique upland landscape encompassing over eight thousand hectares of privately owned European protected and designated High Nature Value farmland, of 1039 metres is subject to economically unviable labour-intensive practices, coupled with rising pressures bought about by the recreational use by over 200,000 people visiting the Reeks annually to climb Ireland’s highest mountain is difficult.
The project aims to improve sustainability, the economic viability of farming through practical, achievable actions and innovative solutions to address issues and to protect biodiversity in this Natura 2000 area, however it is only a small pilot project due to come to an end in 2022.
Ms. Deane added ‘The project has accomplished a huge amount over a very short timeframe, and we hope that consideration will be given to the expansion of some EIP projects to cover entire geographical areas, while still maintaining the locally led approach that is critical to its success. Main streaming aspects of successful projects into generic schemes doesn’t always deliver the required results as each mountain area differs significantly and need tailor made management plans. EIP’s have, and can deliver more.