Climate Change Report Points to the Challenge Ahead for Irish Heritage and Tourism
Press Release : Monday 5th October 2009
The report, Climate Change, Heritage and Tourism: Implications for Ireland’s Coast and Inland Waterways, builds on the climate change scenarios published by the Environmental Protection Agency in April 2009 and includes recommendations on how Ireland can best plan for the impacts of climate change.
Some of main implications of climate change for our natural and built heritage include the following:
- Ireland’s coastal landscape (which contains numerous cultural heritage features such as Martello towers, castles, historic houses and promontory forts) may suffer damage due to increased frequency and intensity in storm and water surges, and coastal erosion;
- Archaeological sites along Ireland’s inland waterways may suffer from both flooding and drought due to climate changes;
- Predicted droughts may also affect the character of Ireland’s green landscape.
- Predicted climate changes such as rising sea levels and changes to rain patterns causing increased risk of flooding and water scarcity, may make Ireland unsuitable for existing species of plants and animals currently living here, causing them to become stressed and possibly extinct. At the same time it could also attract new invasive species to our shores;
- Rising air and water temperature could magnify existing pollution problems, putting greater pressure on species of invertebrates, fish and plants such as salmon, thereby affecting activities such as angling.
Speaking at the launch, Michael Starrett, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council said
"The changes to Ireland’s climate are putting the heritage of Ireland’s coast and inland waterways under increased pressure, impacting seriously on related tourism activities. If we are to cope with the environmental and economic threats we face we need to plan now in an integrated way across all sectors. This report is a first step in informing the heritage and tourism sectors of the risks of climate change and I hope it will bring a more comprehensive approach to climate change at a national level."
The report identifies the potential implications for the Irish tourism industry as a result of the impact of climate change on our natural and built heritage. Responding to these at the launch, Shaun Quinn Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland emphasised:
"Overseas visitors choose to holiday in Ireland for many reasons, chief among them being the richness of our cultural and natural heritage. The high levels of satisfaction recorded amongst visitors with our scenery and our unspoilt environment is striking".
"An environmentally sensitive approach to tourism is not just good practice, but also good business sense. That is why this report is an important part of our ongoing development of the necessary policies and actions we need to have to ensure we maintain all that is good about this country as a destination".
"Today’s report provides us with valuable information pointing to the need to prepare and adapt to the possible impacts of climate change. In some places, it paints a stark picture of the consequences of inaction in the face of the possible challenges which climate change may pose".
The potential impact on the attractiveness of Ireland as a holiday destination, and the impact on visitor enjoyment of their holiday through the range and quality of tourism activities provided are examined in the tourism section of this report. One example is that water based tourism activities on the coast and inland waterways such as cruising, angling, bird and whale watching may be affected by more unpredictable stormy weather.
The report is in effect an advance warning for tourism and heritage but it also stresses that there are definable actions which can be taken now. In order to adapt to the impacts of climate change, the report proposes a number of recommendations, including:
- Further integration of climate change policies with heritage and tourism policies;
- The need for heritage and tourism sectors to plan adequate adaptation measures in advance to deal with any possible repercussions of climate change;
- Training for planning for such adaptation measures in businesses within the heritage and tourism sectors;
The report also outlines the "next steps" for the Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland in working with heritage and tourism stakeholders to adapt to climate change. These steps focus on creating awareness, identifying vulnerabilities and planning for change.
The full report is available on the Heritage Council and Fáilte Ireland websites www.heritagecouncil.ie and www.failteireland.ie
For further information please contact:
Louise Tolerton - Press Officer
086 6086578/01 8847135
Michelle Guinan, MKC Communications, 01 7038604 / 0863846630
Isabell Smyth, Heritage Council, 087 9676889
Note for editor
Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism development authority, was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy.
The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 250,000 people and generates more than €6 billion in revenue a year.
The Heritage Council is the statutory body charged with identifying, protecting, preserving and enhancing Ireland’s national heritage. National heritage includes Monuments, Archaeological objects, Heritage objects, Architectural heritage, Flora, Fauna, Wildlife habitats, Landscapes, Seascapes, Wrecks, Geology, Heritage gardens and parks, and Inland waterways.
Established under the Heritage Act 1995, and operating under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Heritage Council provides advice to the Minister, and partners and networks with Local Authorities and a wide range of other organisations and individuals to promote Ireland’s heritage.