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Humans have occupied Ireland for the past 10,000 years, leaving us with a rich legacy of archaeological monuments and landscapes. We work to conserve this unique archaeological heritage.

Heritage Council welcomes the publication of the Draft National Landscape Strategy

The Heritage Council welcomes the publication of the Government’s Draft National Landscape Strategy by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on the 1st July. 

Since its establishment in 1995, the Heritage Council has advocated the need for such a strategy and for a greater awareness of the value of our landscape. Following two international landscape conferences in 1999 and 2009 Council produced proposals and priorities  in 2010 to help the development of this strategy and has been involved in the discussions leading to this point.

Council’s Chief Executive Michael Starrett commented that the Strategy places “a strong emphasis on a cross sectoral approach at Government level and the necessity  to plan and manage all our landscapes, rural and urban,  in partnership with local communities and key stakeholders. Measures to deepen public participation will offer the chance for communities to emulate the success of similar initiatives in Bere Island , the Burren, or Wicklow Uplands, in enhancing the quality of their landscapes, providing increased tourism potential, educational opportunities, and agricultural practices that deliver sustainable landscape management”.

Tensions over differing expectations from the Irish landscape, such as locations for renewable energy or grid transmission infrastructure, highlight the need for such a  cross-sectoral landscape policy and this Draft National Landscape Strategy offers an  opportunity to develop consistent techniques to manage the development of our landscape. The proposed framework for landscape characterisation can redress failings and improve the quality  of decision making. 

The European Landscape Convention came into effect in 2004 and provided an international framework for this approach. The Government’s new strategy now provides a potentially coherent policy response for Ireland that has to date been missing. While Irish people display a great knowledge of their local places and a great sense of attachment, our processes for landscape characterisation are inconsistent and our frameworks for developing public participation are weak. Any real appreciation of the value and fragility of our landscape has been missing from public policy. This contrasts with the appreciation felt for this by local communities, visitors to Ireland and the way in which our landscape has inspired countless artists and writers.

The demands are increasing at all levels to make this initiative a success and The Heritage Council looks forward to helping build the capacity of everyone involved to secure the effective implementation of the actions identified in the draft Strategy.

The Heritage Council will also be a key player in the development of the Plan, and is responsible, with other parties, for the development of nine of the 19 Action Items that will underpin the build-out of the strategy.