Sister Park agreement signed between Wild Nephin National Park and Yosemite National Park

Date Released: Friday, May 24, 2024

  • Five-year agreement will enable international co-operation and knowledge exchange to support nature conservation, natural and cultural tourism
  • Ceremony welcomes Minister for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD, along with US Ambassador to Ireland Claire D. Cronin, staff from both Parks and local community representatives
  • Ceremony takes place during the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and the United States

Today, 24th May marks the beginning of a new Sister Park arrangement between Wild Nephin National Park in Co. Mayo and Yosemite National Park in California. Minister for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD and US Ambassador to Ireland Claire D. Cronin visited Wild Nephin National Park for the signing of the agreement. The agreement was signed by Catriona Ryan, Director of National Parks and Nature Reserves, NPWS and Cicely Muldoon, Superintendent of Yosemite National Park.

Catriona Ryan and Cicely Muldoon
Pictured: Catriona Ryan, Director, NPWS (Left) and Cicely Muldoon, Superintendant, Yosemite National Park (Right)

The Sister Park agreement runs over five years and will enable international co-operation between both parks to support their shared goals in nature conservation and promoting natural and cultural tourism. It will facilitate information exchange, collaboration and sharing good practice in areas such as community engagement, cultural and visitor service management, forestry and fire management, wilderness and dark sky management and climate change.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Noonan said:

“This Sister Park agreement presents exciting opportunities for both parks. While they may differ in size and geographical features, the challenges they face in Wild Nephin and Yosemite are really very similar. These include balancing nature conservation with visitor impact, preserving our ecological and cultural heritage, controlling invasive species, and educating new generations.

This agreement marks another connection in the shared history of Ireland and the USA and has a special meaning here in Co. Mayo. It is also a reminder that the challenge of protecting biodiversity is both a local and a global one.”

Minister Noonan and Representatives from each National Park
Pictured: Cicely Muldoon, Catriona Ryan and Minister Noonan Ryan

US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire D. Cronin said:

“I am thrilled to celebrate a new sister parks agreement between Wild Nephin National Park and Yosemite National Park, especially in the 100th year of U.S.-Ireland diplomatic relations.  These two parks are treasures of natural beauty and biodiversity.  This partnership strengthens our commitment to conservation and highlights the deep historical ties between Co. Mayo and the United States.”

Catriona Ryan, Director of National Parks and Nature Reserves, NPWS said

“Both Killarney National Park and Connemara National Park have seen the benefits of sister park arrangements, and it’s great to see another of our National Parks participate in an international partnership like this. They are pathways to new thinking and ideas, create a sense of solidarity and are hugely motivating for our staff.”

Denis Strong, Divisional Manager with NPWS said

“We’re looking forward to tapping into the wealth of knowledge at Yosemite National Park over the next five years. While Wild Nephin is definitely the younger sister in this arrangement between our National Parks, we also have lots to share in terms of our conservation work, along with our community and stakeholder engagement. Forestry and woodlands restoration, fire management and dark skies are just some of the themes that we’re hoping to pursue through our collaboration.”

Further Information

Wild Nephin National Park: Located in northwest Mayo, Wild Nephin National Park was designated as Ireland’s sixth National Park in 1998. The Park is home to Owenduff Bog, one of the largest intact active blanket bog systems in Western Europe, along with a wide range of protected species and habitats, including internationally important freshwater river systems and associated habitats. Wild Nephin National Park showcases some of the most pristine night skies in the world and is certified as a Gold Tier standard International Dark Sky Park, drawing new visitors to the park over the winter months.

Yosemite National Park in California consists of over 300,000 hectares, 95% of which is designated wilderness. Yosemite was designated in 1890 as a National Park and is home to five of the world’s highest waterfalls, granite domes and wells, deep valleys, giant sequoia groves and lakes. It is known for unique and pronounced landform features as a result of glacial action on granitic bedrock.

Sister Park/Twinning Arrangements: Sister Park arrangements enable international co-operation between Parks. Connemara National Park has a twinning agreement with Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland, Canada. In 2021, Killarney National Park signed an agreement with Glacier National Park in Montana. More information about Sister Park arrangements on the U.S. National Parks Service Website.