Thursday 17 August 2017

The first phase of wilderness project unveiled

Tourism Minister Michael Ring with pupils of Scoil Nephin National School at the opening of the first phase of visitor access facilities at a project to create an 11,000-hectare wilderness landscape in Co Mayo
Tourism Minister Michael Ring with pupils of Scoil Nephin National School at the opening of the first phase of visitor access facilities at a project to create an 11,000-hectare wilderness landscape in Co Mayo
Adam Cullen

Adam Cullen

The first phase of a "stunning" 28,000-acre wilderness project where nature lovers will be able to roam for days without seeing another soul has been unveiled.

Launched by junior Tourism Minister Michael Ring on Friday, Nephin Bog in Co Mayo is set to become "the envy of Europe" but may take up to half-a-century to complete.

Wild Nephin, as it will be known, will encompass lands controlled by both Coillte and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The bogland will undergo a series of works to rejuvenate the ground, which has been left scarred by almost a thousand years of draining for turf.

Projects will include returning the water table to within 10cm of the surface and forest regeneration to encourage natural forest types to take hold of the land once more.

Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr Ring said the area was "too beautiful to put into words".

"There is a lot of work to be done on this but when it is finished, it will be one of the biggest areas of wilderness in the world.

"It will certainly be the envy of Europe," he said.

"It is not only an asset to Mayo, but will be for the whole of Ireland. It is simply stunning."

The Wild Nephin project forms part of a Europe-wide initiative designed to "re-wild" large areas across the EU.

A number of designated campsites will be built with the provision of primitive shelters, tent platforms, fire rings and toilet facilities.

It will also be a conservation area for endangered birds, such as the hen harrier.

Irish Independent

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