The Bere Island Conservation Plan was launched twenty years ago to ensure the viability of Bere Island and is now being feted as the way forward not just for offshore islands, but other rural communities.
The Bere Island Conservation Plan was launched in 2003 by Bere Island Projects Group working in partnership with The Heritage Council and Cork County Council as a means to combat decreasing population numbers on the island and protect it’s archaeological, built and cultural heritage and natural landscape. The Conservation Plan now forms a blueprint for the future development of Bere Island.
Conservation Plans first came to prominence in Australia as an instrument to restore and preserve a designated area’s landscape, wildlife, built heritage and ancient monuments. It was felt Bere Island was an ideal candidate for such a plan, with its location and landscape serving as one of its main attractions to visitors along with a rich history as a former military stronghold dating back to the late 1700s.
When the idea of a Conservation Plan for Bere Island was first raised, its primary aim was to look at ways of creating employment on the island in a bid to stop population decline. Islanders also had concerns that their built and archaeological heritage was deteriorating. Following a detailed audit of the island’s heritage and landscape, and extensive consultations with the island community four key aims were put forward to form the basis of the Conservation Plan:
- That people can live and work to their satisfaction, while being able to fulfill their social and recreational needs.
- Traditional skills and ways of life are appreciated and built on.
- Economic developments to go hand-in-hand with care for the island’s environment and heritage.
- The community will have influence over any developments.
The Heritage Council committed to the plan by providing funding to employ a development worker to work with Bere Island Projects Group in implementing the plan. A list of the projects undertaken by Bere Island Projects Group as a direct result of the Conservation Plan can be found here.
Bere Island Projects Group continue to work to promote their work and highlight issues facing the island through their membership of the West Cork Islands Community Council, the West Cork Islands Inter Agency Group, Comhar na Oileáin and the European Small Islands Network (ESIN).
For further details on the positive impact the Bere Island Conservation Plan has had in protecting our island heritage, culture and way of life or if your community group are interested in setting up a Conservation Plan please contact Helen Riddell at Bere Island Projects Group or call 027 75099.