What is needed in the Slieve Bloom mountains for tourists and visitors?

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

What is needed in the Slieve Bloom mountains for tourists and visitors?

Image of Slieve Bloom mountains courtesy of Laois Tourism

Do you believe more is needed for visitors to the Slieve Bloom mountains?

Perhaps it's public toilets, carparks, cafés, more roads or cycle lanes, or a campsite or a hostel for hikers and bikers. Perhaps you want more native forests and less commercial forestry on the mountains which are the pride of Laois and Offaly.

Or perhaps you live in the area and have issues with lots of visitors coming to the mountains?

A new survey has been launched this week to get the public's opinions.

The Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve has been identified as an area where there is some potential to enhance the visitor experience in line with nature conservation objectives. 

Ciara O’Mahony is Regional Manager for the National Parks & Wildlife Service South Eastern Region.

“The Slieve Bloom region is famous for its scenic landscapes and popular walks which attract families and outdoor enthusiasts, and increasing numbers of tourists. The Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve is an integral part of the visitor experience, with the Ridge of Capard walk being one of the most popular in the area. Managing sustainable visitor access to the Nature Reserve is a key action which allows the NPWS to balance our core duty of protecting the Reserves’ conservation and heritage values with a need to provide facilities for outdoor recreation, education and interpretation. This is an opportunity for the local community to give us their views on the current and potential future visitor provision in the Nature Reserve," she said.

A meeting to further explore ideas with the local community and interested individuals may, if possible and subject to any public health restrictions in place, take place in the near future. 

Laois Tourism is urging everyone to have their say.

"Do you visit the Slieve Blooms to spend time outdoors? If so, we encourage you to take a few minutes to complete this online survey. 

Fill out the survey here. 

The survey will help to form a new Visitor Experience Development Plan for the Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve,  undertaken by Outdoor Recreation NI on behalf of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (National Parks and Wildlife Service).

Sarah Steer is with Outdoor Recreation NI. 

“As an organisation we have a wealth of experience in managing and developing sustainable outdoor recreation facilities and without question, the Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve is a key part of the visitor experience in the Slieve Bloom region. Enhancing the visitor experience at the Reserve can act as a catalyst to attract visitors, to the benefit of the wider region. However, we believe passionately that any new developments must respect the site’s protected status, and also meet the needs of the local community. During the Covid-19 crisis, local communities around the country have come to greater appreciate the benefits of access to local outdoor spaces. This is the time for people to share their views with us and so we would encourage members of the local community to complete the survey.” 

For more information and to register to attend the consultation meeting, contact Sarah Steer, Outdoor Recreation NI. by E-mail: s.steer@outdoorrecreationni.com