ASCENT, a new innovative project to collectively address the environmental challenges facing seven northern European upland areas, including peaks in the Ring of Gullion and the Mournes will be officially launched by the Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Terence Slowey on Thursday, the 20th of October, 2016
The three year project involves Donegal County Council as lead partner, working collaboratively with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and the Mourne Heritage Trust in Northern Ireland, Metsähallitus Park and Wildlife in Finland, Hordaland County Council in Norway, and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland along with associated partners including Údarás na Gaeltachta, Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust, Mossfellsbær Municipality and Skaftárhreppur.
Unregulated access to upland sites and natural erosion has meant that some areas of natural beauty have experienced degradation, loss of unique bio-diversity and bio-resources. In response, the ASCENT project, an acronym for ‘Apply Skills and Conserve our Environment with New Tools’ sets out to develop management plans and implement innovative measures that will address future economic and environmental sustainability
Gillian Fitzpatrick Chair of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council welcomed the funding from Interreg VB Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme (2014-2020) with support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for this significant project. She added that,
“The landscape quality of our mountain areas must be maintained and conserved and in bringing together all of the stakeholders, project partners and engaging with our local communities. ASCENT will make a very positive contribution towards the sustainable management of our upland areas.”
Two local partnerships will be working together on this project: The Landscape Partnership (LP) in the Ring of Gullion, which is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s programme to conserve and enhance some of the region’s most treasured landscapes; and the Mourne Heritage Trust that has a long term strategy to care for the special qualities of the Mournes landscape.
Des Murphy, Chair of the Ring of Gullion LP said “ This innovative project will help us to reverse some of the natural and manmade damage to our uplands and will improve them sustainably for people and biodiversity for decades to come”. Dessie Patterson, Chair of the Mourne Heritage Trust added, “Our mountains are a fabulous resource but unless we care for them they will become degraded, we need to learn to love and care for our hills”
To coincide with the project launch, delegates from Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Northern Ireland participated in the inaugural steering committee meeting on the 19th of October in County Donegal.
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