Access to the mountains

 

Sir, – Further to John G O’Dwyer’s article “Goodwill of mountain owners should be lauded” (Opinion & Analysis, January 3rd), the long-promised indemnity arrangement for mountain access areas needs to be delivered. But this is just one element in a broader challenge.

We need to organise and invest in the management of recreation in Ireland’s upland areas to accommodate in a long-term sustainable way the growing numbers of people who look to enjoy Ireland’s wonderful outdoors. We need to address the concerns of landowners and protect the natural environment that outdoor recreation activity depends upon.

One approach which has been trialled in the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Clonbur involves the creation of local mountain access forums, bringing together landowner and recreational interests and others involved in local development. Across the country, there is interest in this sort of practical cooperation at local level.

Another option being explored in several upland areas is the reorientation of the subsidies which farmers receive under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy to encourage greater public benefit from land management, notably but not exclusively in climate and environmental protection.

Times are changing, for farmers and landowners, and for those engaged in outdoor recreation activities.

At national level, Mountaineering Ireland is pursing the joined-up thinking which will allow the best use of Ireland’s great outdoors.– Yours, etc,

HELEN LAWLESS.

Hillwalking, Access

and Conservation Officer,

Mountaineering

Ireland,

Irish Sport HQ,

National Sports Campus,

Blanchardstown,

Dublin 15.