BY HELEN RIDDELL
A VISIT to West Cork by European local action groups from Macedonia and Finland included an overnight stay on Bere Island where they met with community groups and visited a number of local businesses and heritage sites.
The visit was hosted by the Irish islands governing body, Comhar na nOileán, along with West Cork Leader and Secad representatives.
Secad provides a range of rural development and social inclusion supports to motivate and empower local communities and the Leader funding programme supports local and community projects.
The group also took part in the West Cork Communities Environment and Climate Action Seminar which was held in Myross Wood House.
They travelled to Bere Island the day after the seminar where they were hosted by Bere Island Projects Group and heard about various biodiversity initiatives the group are involved in on the island. They also visited a number of island businesses, and were given a tour of Lonehort Battery which is being restored as a visitor attraction.
The visitors stayed at the island’s Wild Atlantic Glamping, which was a Leader funded project, and to mark their visit and to support Bere Island Project’s Group tree planting initiative on the island, each member of the delegation planted a tree at the perimeter of the glamping site.
They also attended a public meeting with the island community which was facilitated by Davy Philips of Coughjordan Eco Village and allowed island residents to discuss both the opportunities and challenges of island living in relation to the environment and biodiversity, and allowed both groups to share knowledge gained from working on biodiversity projects in their respective communities.
Last October, Brenda Elphick, who is a committee member of Bere Island Projects Group, travelled to North Macedonia with Comhar na nOileán to meet with a number of local groups, which she said provided Bere Island with an insight into how other rural communities throughout Europe are working on environmental issues and ensuring their communities remain viable.
‘Our visit to Macedonia was a huge success, and provided us with some valuable insights, I was delighted we were able to return the wonderful hospitality we received, and bring the group to Bere Island to show them projects we are working on here, so that we can learn from each other and share our experiences,’ she said.