Aside from the approximately 1500 hectares owned by the Burren National Park, the land in the Burren is in private ownership. The majority of sites that people would like to visit, be they of geological, botanical or cultural interest, and nearly all of the walking trails, are on private property. The majority of landowners do not mind having people on their property, providing they show care for crops, boundaries, gates and livestock. However, the future of good visitor management practice in the Burren relies on this good will and concerns surrounding public liability, damage to property, disturbance of livestock and general management and maintenance must be taken account.
The Burren Connect project team is working with landowners, local walking clubs, guided walking tour operators, Clare County Council, Shannon Development, Burren Way Ltd, the Sports Council of Ireland and the newly appointed Rural Recreation Officer to find ways to ensure that access issues are properly addressed. Burren Connect is represented on the Co. Clare Walks Steering Committee, Burren Way Ltd, and were instrumental in setting up a committee to investigate the inclusion of the Cliffs walk into the Burren Way.
After lengthy negotiations of the Government through the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, recently implemented the Walks Scheme and the appointment of a Rural Resource Officer in a number of pilot counties, including Co. Clare. This initiative will assist greatly in the development of walking trails (http://www.shannonregiontrails.ie/FindaTrail/Walking/) in the Burren. Eimer McCarthy, who previously worked with Burren Connect, is the Officer for Clare and she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. See www.rrd.ie for more details on this programme.