The MacGillycuddy Reeks EIP Project was established in August 2018 to improve the sustainability and support economic viability of farming in the MacGillycuddy Reeks. The project is working with local farmers to maintain and enhance the rare and protected heath and bog habitats within the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) through controlled grazing, establishing an active landowner ranger presence, undertaking path maintenance works and treating bracken and rhododendron in the area.
Our nominee, Kieran Doona, comes from a family that have been farming along one of the main access routes to Carrauntoohil for 5 generations. Kieran is a young part-time farmer who has a good understanding of the project objectives. He has demonstrated great willingness and is open to trialling new approaches on his farm. The land included in the project supports wet heath habitat that has been heavily grazed in the past resulting in extensive spread of bracken and increased levels of gorse which are above optimum for this habitat. Kieran has agreed to significantly reduce sheep numbers on his site to allow the heathers and other heathland vegetation to recover and has also agreed to summer grazing with Droimeann cattle as a long-term management strategy for controlling the total cover of bracken and gorse.
Kieran also works with a group of local farmers who carry out path maintenance works in the MacGillycuddy Reeks. This work is vital to the conservation of these upland habitats in terms managing the impacts from the large numbers of people (hillwalkers and other recreational users) that visit the Reeks. Well maintained tracks and trails are essential for encouraging visitors to remain on these footpaths, thereby reducing erosion impacts in the wider landscape. Kieran is one of 6 individuals in the country who was recently awarded an SVQ in Environmental Conservation, Level 5, relating specifically to the construction and maintenance of tracks and trails in sensitive upland habitats.
Kieran is passionate about raising awareness of upland farming and its long-term viability. He is keen to promote good management practices; he facilitated several Heritage Council study visits to the Reeks in 2018 and contributed to an RTE Radio 1 series on adventure in upland areas.
Nomination: Patricia Deane, Project Manager, MacGillycuddy Reeks European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Project