Claire McCallan, Project Lead, made a detailed presentation to Members on the Hericoast project:
The collation of spatial data under the auspices of the Seascape Units and encompassing the entire coastline of Donegal was discussed. In excess of 50 different elements has been gathered, ranging from archaeological zones, RPS structures, maritime military structures, Natura 2000 sites, blue flag beaches, tourism facilities, culture, custom and celebration. Preliminary interrogation of the data has revealed areas that require policy intervention. For example, Fanad Head Lighthouse had projected 5,000 visitors but attracted over 17,000 with no supporting infrastructure or attendant facilities. Furthermore Donegal has also received global recognition by the awards of “Ireland’s hidden gem” by Readers Travel Awards, National Geographic “Coolest place on the planet”. These have in common raised the profile of Donegal by presenting a great opportunity for further development and economic growth that must addressed in a balanced and appropriate manner.
A significant amount of mapping and digitization of data has been completed as part of the Hericoast project and this was demonstrated to Members informing them of the Map Portal that links into “best practices in Donegal” “coastal Tourism” which enables other partners to investigate and share information.
At the workshop in Spain the Donegal team presented best practice examples of coastal heritage in Donegal as well as the methodology employed for evidence-led heritage policy making and decision making. The example of Fanad Lighthouse as best practice was selected because a new heritage asset was created and in doing so, it provided an opportunity for the local community to sustain the local community. Two examples from Donegal have been selected as two of the four international examples to be included in a best practice report to inform policy making in the European partner countries. A detailed description of the visit to an EU funded canal project in Castille y Leon Region in Spain was given. This demonstrated through a shared learning experience how an old disused canal system was restored. However issues arose during restoration with the lack of associated facilities such as toilets, cafes, etc to support the project. The restoration became a victim of its own success. It was explained to the meeting that lessons learned by the European partner groups should be relayed to participants in Donegal and the same lessons applied if a similar project commences here. This was accepted and noted by all that support facilities should be provided in tandem with any restoration project.
Dirk Gotzman, Director of CIVILSCAPE (European Landscape Institute) and an expert advisory partner of the Hericoast project gave an update of the project to the Council of Europe where it was discussed at workshops and steering committees. Hericoast will be referenced again in this context during the European Year of Culture 2018. The project was also briefed to the Director General for Education and Culture of the EU (EAC) and to the European Heritage Alliance. A presentation was also made to a Marinescape Forum in Poole, England, hosted by CIVILSCAPE, as part of an exchange of experience event. This was attended by Dr. Brian Smith, Sec General of Heritage Europe and co-author of the EU Horizon 2020 project.
The response from stakeholders was very positive and the event was well received with all participants welcoming the potential benefits that the Hericoast project can bring to their respective coastal communities. It was accepted that this can be achieved by way of identification of coastal heritage sites and from the evidence gathering exercise as well as from exchanging experiences and shared learning. The Hericoast Map Portal was viewed as a positive mechanism by which the communities can become actively involved, participate and contribute to the heritage conservation process.
12 persons attended the meeting.