Almost 1,000 hectares of upland habitat in Co Cavan is to be purchased as part of the world's first cross-border Geopark. The site, near the Cuilcagh Mountains will be managed to help the State meet its nature and biodiversity action plans, and significantly benefit the work of the Geopark.
Announcing the news while on a tour of the site earlier today, Tánaiste, Micheál Martin highlighted how the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has reached an agreement to purchase the land that will assist Cavan County Council in supporting the aims of the Geopark.
Speaking to Northern Sound following the announcement, Deputy Brendan Smith and the Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr John Paul Feeley, said the move marks a "wonderful day for cross border relations on the island of Ireland.
Deputy Smith highlighted how he and Arlene Foster were the first to initiate the effort in 2009 making it the first cross border UNESCO geo park in the world. "The Geopark was established in 2009 and I was very glad as Minister for Agriculture along with Arlene Foster who was then Minister for Tourism & Investment in Northern Ireland to get the Geopark going.
"It was the first cross-border UNESCO geopark in the world to be established. In the meantime, it has become very successful; has a huge tourist attraction; and has huge biodiversity and environmental strengths.
"I was very pleased that An Tainiste announced that the NPWS has purchased an additional 1,000 hectares joining the Geopark. So this is extremely exciting news for the border region; for Cavan and Fermanagh; and indeed for the north midlands as well," he added.
Meanwhile, Cllr Feeley pointed to the purchase of the land and how it fits into the 'ethos' of the local geopark. "This is a project we have been working on for about two years now. We had been looking at various options on how this tract of land could be acquired from an environmental point of view to protect it for the future and also for the development of tourism in the area.
"This purchase is a very big vote of confidence in the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark; the UNSECO partnership we have with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council; and with Cavan County Council. It fits very well into the ethos of the geopark in terms of protecting the environment and opening it up to people so that they can enjoy the countryside that is around them," he added.