Plans to create 'Kerry biosphere'

Tadhg Evans

UNESCO is to rule on plans to extend the Killarney National Park Biosphere, with proposals for a wider 'Kerry Biosphere' to be given consideration.

Kerry County Council (KCC) and the National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS) will this week request the retention of the existing Killarney National Park Biosphere Reserve, as well as the proposed extension to surrounding areas including parts of the MacGillycuddy Reeks and the Lough Leane catchment.

The Killarney reserve is one of just two reserves in Ireland and UNESCO is expected to make a decision by mid June. The decision will not affect planning restrictions as it is a non-statutory accreditation and it is hoped it will boost funding opportunities as well as branding for tourism and agricultural products.

Areas are recognised as biosphere reserves for demonstrating a balanced relationship between people and nature. Killarney National Park received its UNESCO recognition in the 1980s due to the rare habitats and wildlife within the park.

"The newly defined biosphere reserve will be known as the Kerry Biosphere Reserve," a council spokesperson said. "The core area, including State-owned lands dedicated to long-term conservation within Killarney National Park and the Eirk Bog Nature Reserve, will remain largely the same.

"The proposed Buffer Zone includes areas within the National Park, the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Caragh River Catchment Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Castlemaine Harbour SAC. A proposed Transition Area includes parts of the Lough Leane Catchment and the MacGillycuddy Reeks," the spokesperson added.

Killarney Municipal District Cathaoirleach Brendan Cronin said "There are no statutory implications if this designation comes into effect and communities within the new biosphere boundary will not be subject to any additional planning restrictions or limitations.

"Similar to Tidy Towns and Blue Flag awards, this is an incredible opportunity to showcase greater Killarney and Kerry as an exceptional area for nature, culture and sustainable development."

South and West Kerry Municipal District Cathaoirleach John Francis Flynn said he hopes to see the accreditation extended to other parts of the county.


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