The Wild Ireland Tour will take Bella and I through some of the most special landscapes and wildlife sites in north-western Europe, and all of them on the island of Ireland. Planning the route for the tour was the easy part as I decided early on to keep to the most coastal route. However, trying to decide on which sites to visit and who to meet along the way proved more difficult.
When looking at where the route takes us I realise that it presented an embarrassment of riches. There is a fabulous diversity of wildlife sites right around the coast, each with its unique features. And many excellent conservationists, scientists and local communities who are doing tremendous work to help protect wildlife. So even early on in the planning for the tour, it was an encouraging realisation to make that there is a lot happening out there.
For the tour all I can hope to present is a snapshot of the wildlife sites that we have in Ireland, and profile only a cross-section of those working for conservation. The sites that I will visit are not necessarily any more important than some of those I will pass by, and the people I will profile along the way are mainly chosen because I know them personally. This is not very scientific or objective, but then again, it is meant to be a personalised journey around Ireland.
The month long Wild Ireland Tour will take me through 19 counties and six of Ireland’s Gaeltacht areas. I intend to visit about 60 sites, representing different aspects of wildlife conservation.
The sites to be visited include:
19 – Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas
13 – Nature Reserves
12 – Ramsar Sites
3 – Forest Parks
3 – Golf courses (I’ll explain later!)
2 – National Parks
2 – Special Amenity Area Orders
1 – World Heritage Site
1 – World Biosphere Reserve
1 – National Historic Park, and
1 – Off-shore Island.
What all these designations mean will become clear as the journey unfolds. So, I think, this is enough to be getting on with…