Promoting sustainable access to uplands and natural environments is what the ASCENT project is looking to achieve and this 3 year environmental project is now reaching its midway point.
The project which links seven areas of natural beauty in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, Iceland and Norway is focusing on sites that are facing challenges with increased visitor numbers and unregulated access including Errigal Mountain in Donegal.
Rosita Mahony is the Project Co-ordinator in Donegal County Council and explains that in Donegal this project is working closely with a range of stakeholders including the local community to see how best to achieve sustainable access to this increasingly popular mountain.
“To date work at Errigal has included the installation of visitor monitoring equipment to quantify usage and to monitor changes over time and a phased approach has been agreed in consultation with the Errigal Stakeholders Committee for repair and restoration works to be undertaken through the ASCENT project. Agreement was reached late last year on a single route and the next step is to proceed with an environmental assessment in line with current conservation objectives for Errigal”.
The ASCENT project which is led by Donegal County Council has an ambitious work plan which centres on achieving sustainable access to upland areas through many measures including site specific management plans and the implementation of innovative measures to restore habitats and limit further damage, occurring with increased footfall on those sensitive and vulnerable environments.
An important part of the project is about partners sharing their experiences and insights into the impacts of unregulated access in upland areas which will help inform and guide upland path management policy. The ‘Managing Upland Paths – are Good Principles Enough?’ workshop was held at the Tollymore Centre in the shadows of the Mourne Mountains recently with stakeholders from Ireland, the UK and Iceland participating. Key issues were shared, common challenges discussed and recommendations for Guiding Principles for managing erosion in environmentally sensitive landscapes were offered.
ASCENT is funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (2014 – 2020) under Interreg VB and the European Regional Development Fund under Programme Axis 4, Objective 4, which seeks to increase the capacity of remote and sparsely populated communities for sustainable environmental management. For more on this project visit @AscentProjectNPA on Facebook.