People and Their Place
New Burren 'movement' leads the way
Economic and social benefits of heritage and culture can only be realised with astute management
April 7th 2011: Speaking at the Burrenbeo Trust’s Gala Evening, entitled Landscape, Memory and Friendship, Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said “The Burren is a remarkable area which needs to be protected and managed in a sensitive way that respects and benefits the local community and wider society. Conserving our natural and cultural heritage provides real economic returns and we are fortunate indeed to have the Burrenbeo Trust”.
“Since the Trust was formed in 2008, it has trained hundreds of Burren schoolchildren to become ‘Burren experts’, developed a portal Burren website, a resource centre in Kinvara and also a Burren Business Network which promotes businesses within the Burren. The Burrenbeo Trust has already had a major impact both locally and nationally and hopefully it can serve as a model for other regions of the country to follow.”
Also speaking at the gala which featured the launch of Burrenbeo Trust’s Flagship annual magazine, Burren Insight, and its revamped website www.burrenbeo.com, Burrenbeo co-founder Dr Brendan Dunford said that “the many economic and social benefits of heritage and culture can only be realised with careful management”.
Dr Dunford said that “Ireland’s outstanding legacy of landscape, wildlife, archaeology and healthy environment are its greatest natural resource. Remarkable progress has been achieved in the Burren over the past decade showing how astute management of this resource can yield tangible social and economic benefits”.
According to Dr Dunford “a new movement’ is emerging from the Burren which demonstrates how such social and economic benefits can actually be realised”.
‘Paraphrasing the recent words of ex- US president Bill Clinton, our heritage and culture are what make us stand out as a people and as a nation’. While our heritage and culture are very special and dear to all of us, these are also potentially huge economic and social resources. However their value is almost entirely dependent on how well they are managed. We feel that the Burren is an exemplary case of how respectful, inclusive management can in fact yield real, long term benefits to local communities and to wider society’.
Long admired as a botanist’s paradise, the Burren is now home to a pioneering new ‘farming for conservation’ programme whereby farmers earn real income from producing orchid rich grasslands. A mecca for discerning visitors interested in rare habitats, geology and archaeology, the Burren is now at the cutting edge of Eco-tourism in Ireland. Recognised as the ideal ‘outdoor classroom’ the Burren is now being used as a source of ‘experiential’ learning for a new generation of children from the Burren and beyond.
Capitalising on these and other successes, the Burren is now the subject of a new Heritage Council sponsored approach to landscape management in Ireland, with the development of a ‘Burren Charter’. This represents a radical departure in participatory democracy, with world cafes, ‘Petcha kucha’ sessions and ‘town hall’ meetings being employed in what is in effect a new ‘landscape movement’ through which local communities are encouraged and empowered to become architects of their own destiny.
Dr Dunford said that “we want to enlist the support of Burren lovers all over the world to become part of this new ‘Burren movement’.
All of these hugely positive initiatives are grounded on awareness of, and respect for, the Burren landscape and its people. Burrenbeo Trust, a registered charity which numbers Seamus Heaney and David Bellamy among its Patrons, has led this ‘grass roots’ work for the past decade by ‘opening eyes to the living Burren’ through its work in local schools, from where over 600 young ‘Burren experts’ have graduated. The Trust are the main providers of information to local and visiting communities through a range of cutting edge media and more traditional ‘walks and talks’. Burrenbeo Trust manage Ireland’s largest conservation volunteers group who actively manage Burren habitats, while the Trust have also impacted on Government policy on the Burren through its longstanding programme of advocacy.
Burrenbeo Trust is Ireland’s only landscape trust and the launch of its annual magazine and revamped website consolidates its status as the leading provider of independent information and education regarding Ireland’s premier heritage landscape. Membership of the Burrenbeo Trust is open to organisations and individuals from Ireland and abroad.
Dr Dunford concluded that: ‘The Burren is the soul of Ireland - indefinable, elusive but deep-down special. It is our greatest repository of natural and cultural heritage, and encapsulates our very essence as a people. We want to ensure that the Burren becomes a model of best practice with regard to landscape management in Ireland – a place where our heritage and culture are managed with respect and sensitivity and in a way that will yield demonstrable benefits for local communities and wider society’.
Further information and images are available from:
Dr. Brendan Dunford 087-284 1236
Brigid Barry 091-638 096