More to accessing nature than uplands


Sir, – In 50 years regularly reading The Irish Times, I have been reassured by reader’s letters marking the turning of the year with reports of the first snowdrop, primrose, swallow or cuckoo.

But for 25 or more of those reading years the debate on walker access to our uplands has been added to the these hardy annuals; however reading John G O’Dwyer (“Goodwill of mountain owners should be lauded” , Opinion & Analysis, January 3rd) and follow-on letters in recent days is not a reassuring exercise. It seems to be a case of one step forward and two steps backwards.

To reverse this lack of substantial progress it should be recognised that access to our landscape is not solely about access to our uplands.

There is a big landscape out there and it might be more productive to widen the debate on upland access to include access to abandoned rail lines, coastal cliff walks, beaches, coves and headlands, woodlands and forests, rivers, lakes and canal banks, bogs and wetlands and many urban spaces including gated communities.

This wider debate prevents claims of sectoral victimisation and elitism and is more in the even-sided spirit of article 43 (property rights) of our Constitution.

The framework for such a wide-ranging consideration of landscape access already exists in the National Landscape Strategy for Ireland 2015-2025.

The implementation of this core strategy is, however, currently totally under-resourced and virtually at a standstill.

Let’s get talking and walking; otherwise letters bemoaning a moribund national landscape strategy will join the afore-mentioned hardy annuals on this page. – Yours, etc,



Co Cork.