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  • Kestrel
    Kestrel: widespread throughout the region
    All Photographs © John N Murphy

    Notes from the Aughty People & Earth Day Natural History / Biodiversity discussion group, recorded by Gordon D'Arcy.

     

    Short as it was, we had a very fruitful discussion.

    • We first of all tried to consider what we were dealing with - was it the environment, was it biodiversity?
    • Are these headings off-putting or do they encompass what we're really concerned about?
    • We ended up talking about the Natural History - perhaps more all embracing because it brings in the context of history - past nature and present and perhaps future nature as well.
    • We felt that the Natural History of the Sliabh Aughties was as relevant a term as anything else.
    • The first thing we talked about was the nature of the uplands, the fact that they're acid rocks, they're old red sandstone so they support a different flora and fauna from the Burren for instance.
    • And will never be as important as the Burren because the Burren is outstanding in European terms - there are other Sliabh Aughties.

    That being said:

    • It's a very unexplored and undeveloped place other than the plantations of Sitka spruce that blanket so much of it.
    • And we thought that one of the positive things we could do is to consider that aspect of it - the aspect of it being covered in plantations and how we could shape that to be more environmentally friendly.
    • To make it a better, richer place. In other words to improve its biodiversity.
    • We know that there is a report by Cillian Roden, very recently written which is going into the Irish Naturalist Journal - sorry that Cillian isn't here today I think he will be down in the afternoon.
    • It's about remnant native woodlands on the side of the Sliabh Aughties.
    • He found three patches of native woodland which still have got plenty of the native flora and fauna associated with it.
    • In his view these woodland patches or remnants were never developed or removed in the past. He can trace them back through old maps.
    • So we thought we could use this as a nucleus for developing a greater consciousness of the woodlands of the Sliabh Aughties.
    • And perhaps encouraging local people, local communities around it to replant the woodlands wherever possible.
    • Perhaps using the neighbour woods scheme that exists throughout the country for doing that.
    • We felt that the wildlife corridor comes into play then - if you plant trees snaking up the valleys or reaching up into the uplands they will carry wildlife with them.
    • Roden's report shows that there are quite a few rare plants still found there like the Irish Euphorbia and there are some rare butterflies in the trees there too.

    We decided, just to summarise, having chosen the tree if you like as the theme or the emphasis for the mountains that we would take on a number of actions:

    • The first would be to have another look at Roden's paper - get him to present it locally or to get more publicity maybe surrounding it.
    • And then talk to the people involved in biodiversity and nature in this part of the world - the Heritage Officers, the Biodiversity Officers, people like that
    • And get a proper survey done on the hills so that we can find out if there are more woodlands there or the extent that the woodlands occupy of the uplands.

    We then thought that the next phase would be an educational phase - to talk to the people who are responsible for the running or the operation of the mountains - the Department of Agriculture, the local farmers, Coillte and the forest service particularly, the county councils and so on - people who are associated with the mountains, who work there, who are responsible for the mountains' upkeep etc.

    • Try and get them into the idea of this change of policy and view.
    • So that the woodlands can be given much more emphasis than was the case in the past.
    • And then we would like to reach out to the other groups here who are interested in the social history, the folklore and other aspects of heritage associated with the mountains
    • And see if we could link across in a networking arrangement
    • Where the wildlife, and the exploitation of the wildlife if you like, in the nicest sense of the term, could be brought together with how other people would see the use of those mountains.

    In other words:

    • That in the long term, brochures could be developed that would look at both sides - the natural and social heritage of the uplands and
    • That paths and tourist accommodation could be brought into the scheme of things.
    • We wanted to do it in that way so that, if you like, tourism was looked at at the end, not at the start. We felt as though that was the rationale - it made more sense to do it that way. So that's the way we were thinking.
    • And we felt by giving it that thrust - particularly emphasising on the arboreal cover of the mountains that it would give it some sort of logical sense
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    Many thanks to John Murphy of clarebirdwatch.com for the photos and information below.
         
    Coal Tit
    Coal Tit: one of the few birds that like conifer plantations
      Dipper
    Dipper: found on the clean fresh upper streams of the Aughties
         
    Golden Plover
    Golden Plover: found high in Slieve Aughty
      Grey Heron
    Grey Herons: on all the lakes and streams
         
    Stonechat
    Stonechat: found in rougher ground
      Tufted Drake
    Tufted Ducks are common in Lough Inchicronin
     
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