Rewilding: Exploring the opportunities for the Midlands at Cloughjordan event

ECOLearn-Biodiversity2017 cloughjordan rewilding

Most of Ireland’s natural habitats — even our ‘wildest’ mountain ranges and boglands — are managed primarily for human use, either through grazing, turf-cutting, mowing or cutting. Recently there has been a lot of interest around the new idea of ‘rewilding’ our ecosystems.

‘Rewilding’ is a conservation philosophy that aims to end intensive human management of habitats and allow them to re-generate naturally. This could mean the creation of large new areas of native woodland and forest, and new wetlands on cutaway bog, offering significant economic opportunities in marginalised rural areas.

In Ireland a number of exciting projects based around new wilderness areas are either underway or at planning stage. These include Coillte’s ‘Wild Nephin’ project in Mayo, the restoration of woodland in the Slieve Aughty Mountains by the Woodland League, and the tentative plans for a ‘wetland wilderness park’ in the midlands.

An event in Cloughjordan on Sunday the 21st of May will introduce the concept of rewilding and explore the potential for the midlands to create new eco-tourism enterprises in rewilded areas, based around walking, hiking, mountain biking nature-watching and other adventure activities. Local craft and food industries centred on local nature and wildlife could also benefit from this approach.

This free event, which is open to all, begins at 3pm with author and journalist Lenny Antonelli who will explain what rewilding is and how it differs from traditional habitat conservation. This presentation will be followed by a panel discussion that will explore the opportunities of developing sustainable eco-tourism enterprises centred on ‘rewilding’ project areas, with a particular focus on the midlands. The panel will include RTE’s Eco Eye presenter Anja Murray and Ricky Whelan, a director of the Abbeyleix Bog Project. Popular environmentalist and broadcaster Duncan Stewart will close the session with his reflections.

‘Nature and Community’ a talk with ecologist TV presenter Anja Murray will be held from 1.30pm on the same day in the stunning location of the new outdoor Community Amphitheatre in Cloughjordan Ecovillage. This will be followed by a guided tour of the biodiversity and tourism elements of the project.

NATURE & COMMUNITY 
13.30 – 15.00 – SUNDAY 21st MAY 2017
Starting at the Community Amphitheatre

REWILDING, RURAL REGENERATION & ECO-TOURISM 
15.00 – 16.30 – SUNDAY 21st MAY 2017
WeCreate Enterprise Centre, Cloughjordan Ecovillage

These free events are supported by Notice Nature and the Irish Environmental Network, and held in association with the Cloughjordan Community Development Committee’s 2017 National Biodiversity Week Programme.

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