“We are not solving all our problems … our progress has been steady.”
1 Contact: Patricia Deane, Rural Recreation Officer, South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd., Library Place, Killorglin, Co. Kerry. Tel: +353 (0 )66 9761615 / E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org /www.macgillycuddyreekskerry.com
2 Territory: The McGillycuddy Reeks occupies about 100km2 immediately west of the Killarney National Park in County Kerry. They stretch from the Gap of Dunloe in the east to Glencar in the west. The majority of the land in the MacGillycuddy Reeks area is either privately owned by individuals or held in commonages. Carrauntoohil is the highest peak on the island of Ireland at 1,038m and is the central peak of the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks range. People counter readings from 2015 show over 75,000 accessing the Reeks from the three main access points from January to October.
3 Founded: 2014
4 Genesis: The new Forum comprises of local landowners, community groups and local businesses from the Glencar, Beaufort, Bridia Valley, The Black Valley and the Gap of Dunloe areas, as well as representatives from the DECLG, SKDP-local development company, the local authority Kerry County Council, an elected representative from KCC, Fáilte Ireland, NPWS, recreational users, a representative from the commercial guides who use the Reeks, and an independent chairperson. The Forum is one of two national pilots delivered under the Mountain Access Scheme (MAS). [Note: The aim of the MAS is to formally agree recreational access with landowners on a mountain/mountain range or in selected uplands area to facilitate recreational access. The second pilot is in Mount Gable, Connemara.]
5 Vision: The purpose of the Forum is to put in place a long term sustainable management plan for the MacGillycuddy Reeks under a permissive access model that is acceptable to all interested parties.
6 Key Objectives:– The delivery of agreed actions within the MacGillycuddy Reeks Mountain Access Developmental Assessment Report which contains defined and measurable targets, linked to broader conservation, development and land management principles; to offer a positive environment for all participants to air and resolve disputes; to provide recreational visitors to the Reeks with a responsible and memorable visit.
7 Structure: The forum was established by South Kerry Development Partnership (SKDP) through the INTERREG Rural Alliance project, Failte Ireland and The Department of Environment, Community & Local Government,.. The Forum has representatives as listed above P.4.
8 Operational Management: The Forum is administratively supported on a part time basis through Patricia Deane Rural Recreation Officer with South Kerry Development Partnership (SKDP) in Killorglin.
9 Annual Core Budget: The forum was given support initially from DECLG, to carry out a number of actions (purchase people counters, install signage etc.) and have since applied for various streams of funding as they have become available. No annual core budget.
10 Sample Programming: Path Audit, indicative costings and recommended repairs, Path Repair – the delivery of a six month practical training programme for eight local landowners/local people during late 2015, into 2016 (building up local skills / expertise in this area, as recommended in the Path Audit report through REDZ funding);Detailed assessment of paths to planning standards, detailed costings with detailed recommendations on how to carry out the work. Development of the Friends of the Reeks initiative to help secure match funding; Enhanced integrated signage initiative; Honesty boxes placed in car parks to support trail repair works currently being carried out. Drafting and presenting policy papers to inform the national debate on upland issues; Engagement with RDP-LEADER, Community Support Funding etc.
11 Some Practical Problems Encountered: Managing and helping overcome ‘varied opinions’ within the Forum on priorities and how best to move forward; The heavy and unsustainable workload of the RRO; Access to funding to enable the Forum plan into the medium term; the ‘lack of appetite’ to deal with critical upland issues in a joined up manner.
12 Some Unresolved Issues: Continue to positively engage with the very small number of landowners who do not want people accessing their land, and addressing their concerns, the ‘dogs issue’ continues to present itself on a regular basis; Awaiting the announcement of a State Indemnity Scheme.
13 Lessons Learned: Local problems can be solved locally; Continue to challenge the national priorities which are contributing to the de-population / decline of upland areas … permissive access is not the big issue now it is government policy towards the uplands; there is a huge amount of goodwill in the community for the Forum; A good working relationship with key officers in the Local Authority, National Parks and Fáilte Ireland is critical; Without an adequate level of support from an experienced day-to-day coordinator on the ground most groups will under perform and fade away.
14 Work Profile: Stakeholder engagement 50%; Policy 20%; Administration & Fund Raising 20%; Communications 10%