On Friday September 13th 2013, Jimmy Deenihan, T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, accepted Ireland’s first ever ‘European Diploma of Protected Areas Award’ from the Council of Europe for the sustainable management of the Burren.
Professor Michael Usher, Chairman of the Group of Specialists for the European Diploma of Protected Areas, presented the award to Minister Deenihan in the Michael Cusack Centre, Carron, Co Clare.
Created in 1965, this prestigious award is a very effective means of conserving Europe’s most outstanding natural and semi-natural areas. To date, 72 Diplomas have been awarded and are held in 28 European countries.
This award recognises the European significance of the area, which has remarkable natural values, a rich flora and fauna, an important cultural heritage, traditional socio-economic activities and good management. The Diploma is initially awarded for a period of five years, after which it can be renewed for further periods of 10 years.
The BurrenLIFE Project and Burren Life Programme have been outstanding examples of cooperation and communication. The partnership model developed in the LIFE project has brought together researchers, government departments, Teagasc, the IFA and, most importantly, the farmers who have worked the land in the Burren over centuries. The spirit of communication fostered in the “research phase” of the project has continued into the “delivery phase”. The project has provided conservation-action roadmap for farming not just in the Burren but also for other parts of the country. The farming aspects of the Burren being addressed by BLP and BFCP have been a catalyst for further community involvement in education, tourism, business etc.
The award was welcomed by local farm leader Michael Davoren who said it was “a testament to what could be achieved when organisations worked together with mutual respect towards a common goal”.
Minister Deenihan commented at the event
“I am delighted to accept this Diploma on behalf of Ireland and the people of the Burren. Too often in the past, designation has been seen as a restriction or as a burden. The vision and co-operation of a passionate group of people here has changed this perception. It is clear that, with the correct supports, this model can be rolled out elsewhere in Ireland, to positive effect. This partnership approach has numerous positive spinoffs, resulting in environmentally friendly farming, sustainable tourism, improved education and awareness, protection of nature and archaeology, trust building, local empowerment and the maintenance of vibrant local communities.
We need to build on the work here in the years ahead and ensure that the Burren continues to be a flagship of best practice both in Ireland and across Europe. I would like to pay particular tribute to the people who work behind the scenes in the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme, the Burren Connect project, the Burrenbeo Trust, the Burren IFA, the County Councils, Teagasc, The Heritage Council and of course to the staff of my department and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine”.
Minister Jimmy DeenihanT.D. former Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht with Michael Usher, chairman of the Group of Specialists on the European Diploma of Protected Areas, Iva Obretenova, secretariat of the Bern Convention and Dr Brendan Dunford, Burren Farming for Conservation speaking to Clare IFA's Michael Davoren after the award. (photo: Eamon Ward)
2015 was the 50th year anniversary of the Diploma and events were organised in the Burren to celebrate this event.
The Bern Convention is a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation, covering most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extending to some States of Africa.