Please note: Following input from detailed ecology surveys and community engagement in 2022, some project details have been changed. This will be reflected in updated management plans which have been presented at community engagement walks at the project sites and which we will share in more detail in 2023.
The following preparatory actions will be applicable at Ards Forest Park in the SAC Sheephaven:
A1 Characterization and diagnosis of insular habitats. Assessment of the current situation
A2 Technical planning of concrete conservation actions
A3 Community participation regarding concrete conservation actions
These actions will be carried out as part of a management planning exercise that will return a set of management recommendations for the fixed dunes to be incorporated into a “Biodiversity Management Plan for the Ards Forest Park” by COILLTE . This Management Plan will be a major focus of project activities at this site.
A1 Ecological reviews (field and cabinet) will provide a scientific basis for deciding which interventions are appropriate in different settings. Due to the high recreational use of Ards Forest Park, the commitment and support of local people is vital to the successful execution of this project within the project timeline. In particular, public access must be managed to ensure that it is compatible with the conservation of important habitats, especially dune and coastal habitats. Therefore, active local community groups, recreational users and relevant NGOs will be consulted and encouraged to make presentations on dune management options. Information on how people make use of the dunes will be incorporated into the management plan to reduce the potential for negative impacts on sensitive habitats.
Based on Actions A1 and A3, technical planning will identify areas of woodland that are suitable for restoration by 2130* (<2 ha), as well as areas where trees need to be conserved, cleared, or replaced with native tree species and shrubbery. Management plans for the coastal area and adjacent habitats within the SAC will be developed and included in a Biodiversity Management Plan (BAMP) for Ards Forest Park by COILLTE. In each case, the specific methods and measures derived from the technical planning will be included in the BAMP.
This plan will form the basis of the SAC's long-term management strategy, including the A actions that will contribute to the AfterLIFE plan.