Minister Michael Ring TD Officially Opens First Phase of Visitor Access Facilities at ‘Wild Nephin’ – Ireland’s First Wilderness Project

Minister of State with Special responsibility for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD with pupils from Scoil Nephin National School at the opening of new visitor facilities at the Wild Nephin project, County Mayo.    
The new visitor facilities at Wild Nephin, which is a joint project between Coillte and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, include a new car park, a viewing platform and picnic tables, to facilitate enhanced visitor access and represents the first phase of a programme of works to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that will provide an authentic ‘wilderness experience’ for those that visit.
Speaking at the launch Minister Ring said: “I am delighted to officially open the new visitor access facility at “Wild Nephin”. I acknowledge the joint effort between Coillte and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The new facilities will prove a great boost to visitor access and will enhance visitor numbers to the area. There are many conservation benefits to this project. This is to be warmly welcomed.”

Gerard Murphy, Managing Director of Coillte Forest said: “As Ireland’s largest forestry company we are responsible for managing 7% of the land of Ireland. The Wild Nephin Project is a great example of how Coillte works in partnership to deliver world class results for all stakeholders by creating a legacy of real value for the people of Ireland. We are very proud of this project and the benefits it will deliver. It will conserve, and where possible enhance the ecological value of all natural and semi-natural habitats and features in the project area. It will also maintain the conservation status of natural ecosystems, flora and fauna, and protect the wilderness value of this remote landscape. It is a great showcase for the work we do all across the country, managing 20% of our forests for nature conservation and biodiversity.”
Denis Strong, Divisional Manager, NPWS and Chairman of the Wild Nephin Working Group, speaking at the event today said: “We are delighted to have Minister Ring here today to help us launch the next phase in the development of Wild Nephin. This unique project is of national and international significance as its one of the few remaining truly wild landscapes. The work we are doing will encourage recreational and educational activity at Nephin, as well as enhancing the overall visitor experience, through a range of visitor facilities being created. This project will also inspire public awareness of our natural and cultural heritage and enable understanding of why it is so important that we treasure what we have.”
Wild Nephin’ is an ongoing project involving collaboration between Coillte and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in the creation of 11,000 hectares of wilderness on Coillte and Ballycroy National Park state owned lands.
The project will provide unique recreational and social benefits, as well as aiming to increase nature conservation and biodiversity by re-wilding of the Coillte forest adjoining the National Park to a natural wilderness state.
This long-term project will take decades to come to full fruition and the arrangements between Coillte and NPWS have been underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding that facilitates management and other arrangements required to progress the project. Experience has proven that investment in the conservation of our natural heritage has the dual benefit of preserving our natural environment for the enjoyment of present and future generations, while also improving the local and national economy through the generation and expansion of responsible sustainable tourism.
The ‘Wild Nephin’ project places a welcome additional focus on Ballycroy National Park and the surrounding area while building on the momentum of other positive recreation developments such as the Bangor Trail and the Greenway.
The protection and enhancement of Ireland’s natural heritage also plays a major role in advancing the national economic recovery by increasing Ireland’s attractiveness as a tourism destination and investment location. Wild Nephin provides an added incentive for tourists to visit Ireland, attracting a new type of visitor as part of a multi-activity holiday that will become a unique and alternative wilderness experience for those more adventurous visitors. Outdoor activity and adventure tourism is a growth area in International tourism and is an area identified by Fáilte Ireland as a priority for Irish tourism in future years.

Source: Coillte

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