Open Event to Visit Granamore Commonage

The West Wicklow Environmental Network in conjunction with the SUAS Pilot Project are hosting an open evening event on Granamore Commonage – part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park, near Hollywood, Co. Wicklow – this evening Thursday, the 30th of June.

Taking place from 7- 9pm, the event promises to be fun, informative and a great way to discover a beautiful part of the Wicklow Uplands rich in heritage and full of examples of how collaborative efforts are restoring our uplands to a thriving biodiversity.

Formerly part of Lord Waterford’s Estate in County Wicklow, the area contains a mosaic of habitats ranging from wet heath, dry heath, grassland and blanket bog, and features the Douglas River and other watercourses that flow into the Kings River and the Blessington Lakes.

Guiding participants around the upland location that forms part of the ‘Sustainable Uplands Agriculture-environment Scheme’ (SUAS) Pilot Project EIP will be:

Project Manager Declan Byrne who will introduce us to the SUAS Project and the role of farmers in improving environmental conditions in upland areas across the region. Local farmer and Chair of the Granamore Commonage Group, Denis Halpin, who will share details of the rich history and cultural heritage of the hill.

And with a focus on biodiversity, participants will also have the opportunity to learn about the habitats and species found in this upland environment with renowned ecologist, Faith Wilson.

The organisers invite you to enjoy and experience the picturesque location, meet other interested parties and assist us in building a better understanding of this special environment and the many lessons from the SUAS Project.

It will be a walk-and-talk along an almost level bog road, with possibly a few short diversions along the way. Participants should wear clothing and footwear suitable for the terrain and weather.

Please register in advance by emailing helenlawless2010@gmail.com, so that the organisers can manage numbers and provide you with meeting arrangements. Additionally, should you have any queries, please send an email.

The inspiring work of the Granamore Commonage Group formed through a facilitated process designed by the SUAS Project, has recently been recognised by being shortlisted for this year’s Farming For Nature Awards.

The commonage itself comprises 1132 acres, with the 10 group members farming the land, involved with sheep farming activities.  As part of the group’s participation in SUAS, a sustainable management plan for the location was developed with guidance from ecologist Faith Wilson, followed by the farmers undertaking numerous actions to protect and enhance the biodiversity on the land.

Collectively, they have been very busy, with many positive and meaningful changes to the biodiversity and upland habitats now evident. Heather and gorse are being managed manually with bush cutters, mineral licks are used to encourage the sheep into areas of dense heather where they trample the thick heather thus allowing space for other vegetation to grow. Bog roads on the hill have been restored and historic grazing management practices have been altered to protect upland habitats.

Under a wider initiative being delivered across various locations in the Wicklow and Dublin Uplands, the group have planted a considerable number of native trees to assist stabilising stream banks. This action reduces erosion and runoff, and protects water sources through the naturally occurring filtration process, and the overall improvement of biodiversity and the creation of a mosaic of habitats.

Their management plan for 2022 includes fencing off exclusion zones in sensitive areas as part of a trial with the NPWS, and they are currently building timber dams to block some eroding upland gullies and to improve the water table, soil conditions and the natural upland vegetation.

Attendees to Thursday’s event will get to see and experience first-hand, many of these landscape actions and the positive contribution they are making to ensuring that this area of rich natural heritage continues to be a thriving, well-managed patchwork of habitats into the future.

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