A new collaboration to address environmental challenges facing northern European upland areas was launched today in the shadows of Errigal, one of the pilot sites in the initiative.
"In working with our European partners, we can learn from each other in collectively exchanging knowledge and ideas, and in exploring new concepts for balancing tourism, cultural and economic interests associated with environmental needs," Donegal County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Terence Slowey, said in launching the initiative.
Donegal County Council is the lead partner in Ascent (Apply Skills and Conserve our Environment with New Tools), working with Metsáhallitus Park and Wildlife in Finland; Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and the Mourne Trust in Northern Ireland; Hordaland County Council in Norway; and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland; and associated partners including Údarás na Gaeltachta, Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust, Mossfellsbaer Municipality and Skaftárhreppur.
"I am confident that this project will ensure the long-term sustainable management of our mountains and upland areas for future generations to come," the council cathaoirleach told the launch audience in the Dún Lúiche community centre, at the base of Errigal.
The pilot sites face challenges posed by unregulated access to upland sites and natural erosion, and the aim of the three-year Ascent programme is to develop management plans and implement measures to address future economic and environmental sustainability.
Speakers from Donegal, Northern Ireland, Finland, Iceland and Norway addressed the particular challenges their areas face, and their shared hopes for the programme.
In his remarks, Cllr. Slowey also acknowledged the active participation of the Dún Lúiche community, "who are keen to ensure that the sustainable and balanced economic development does not hamper our iconic landmark".
The EU-funded Ascent project is a €1.6 million initiative, with Donegal County Council receiving €568,580. Funding comes from from Interreg VB Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (2014-2020) with support from the European Regional Development Fund.
See Monday's Donegal Democrat/Donegal People's Press for more.