Bord na Móna, the semi-state company that manages 80,000 hectares of land, is set to receive an initial €50,000 funding package to develop a new recreation strategy for bogs. The announcement was made by Heather Humphreys, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, during a visit to Co. Offaly on May 31st. The project aims to “revitalise” towns and villages across rural communities in the Midlands and boost tourism.
Minister Humphreys explained that the initiative is part of the government’s “Our Rural Future” and “Hidden Heartlands” initiatives, which have seen more and more people choosing to visit counties in the Midlands such as Offaly, Leitrim, Roscommon, Longford, East Clare, Westmeath, Cavan, North Tipperary, and Galway. The minister noted that the strategy will “provide real focus and build on the already successful recreation facilities that Bord na Móna operate” in bogs throughout the country.
Ger Breen, Head of Land and Habitats at Bord na Móna, expressed the company’s delight at securing funding from the Department of Rural Community Development to develop an Outdoor Recreation Strategy. Breen said that the funding represents a major milestone in realizing Bord na Móna’s vision of rehabilitated peatlands coexisting with renewable energy assets and sensitively developed biodiversity and natural spaces for public enjoyment. He added that the development of recreational spaces within the company’s estate will provide health and wellbeing benefits for local communities and support the growth of sustainable tourism within the Midlands, helping to regenerate the local economy.
The project is the next step in turning boglands into ideal locations for recreational use. Minister Humphreys stated that her department is already progressing an excellent strategy with Coillte in terms of developing forest parks, which are great locations for families and tourists to visit. She emphasized that the new strategy will provide a real focus and build on the already successful recreation facilities that Bord na Móna operates in bogs throughout the country.
The development of the new recreation strategy is expected to provide a significant boost to tourism in the Midlands, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Bord na Móna’s extensive land holdings in the region make it ideally placed to provide new and exciting recreational opportunities for visitors to the area.
The move has been welcomed by local politicians and business leaders, who see it as a positive step towards revitalizing the region’s economy. They believe that the development of new recreational facilities will help to attract more visitors to the area, creating new jobs and boosting local businesses.
The announcement comes as Bord na Móna continues to transition away from peat harvesting towards renewable energy production. The company has already made significant progress in this area, with plans to develop wind and solar energy projects on its land holdings. The development of new recreational facilities will complement this transition, providing a range of new opportunities for visitors to the region.
Overall, the new recreation strategy is seen as an important step towards realizing the full potential of the Midlands as a tourist destination. With its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, the region has much to offer visitors from both Ireland and abroad. By developing new and exciting recreational opportunities, Bord na Móna and the Department of Rural Community Development hope to attract more visitors to the area and help to revitalize the local economy.