The Republic of Ireland’s National Parks and Wildlife Service is to purchase almost 1,000 hectares of upland habitat at the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark.

The purchase of land will be on the Co. Cavan side of the world’s first ever cross-Border Geopark.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin visited the Geopark on May 26 to announce the agreement.

The site will be managed to help the State meet its nature and biodiversity action plans, and significantly benefit the work of the Geopark.

Announcing the acquisition plans on a visit to the Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark, Mr. Martin said: “Given the unique conservation value and remarkable concentration of upland habitats and species at this site, I am very pleased to announce that the National Parks and Wildlife Service has reached an agreement to purchase almost a 1,000 hectares of land, which will allow them, and Cavan County Council, to support the aims of the Geopark, and protect the nature and biodiversity that is such a remarkable characteristic of this area.

“Through the government’s Shared Island Local Authority scheme, we are supporting the development of a Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark plan for biodiversity conservation, climate action and regenerative tourism.

“I look forward to seeing that work completed later this year and to a deepening cross-Border partnership on the Geopark, for the benefit of communities in this unique cross-Border landscape.

“Ownership of these lands on behalf of the Irish people will enhance important cross-Border initiatives by local authorities and communities, and provide an unrivalled opportunity for the conservation of an exceptional range of protected upland habitat and species, thereby making a significant contribution toward the State’s obligations in nature protection and biodiversity.”

Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall Ó Donnchú, said: “The wonderful teams at the Geopark and the two local authorities in Cavan and Fermanagh, combined with the expertise and experience of the NPWS North Midlands Division, will be a powerful combination ensuring this landscape of such outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity is managed and shared for the benefit of the public and local communities for generations to come.”

Attending the event, Chief Executive of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Alison McCullagh, said: “I am delighted that the National Parks and Wildlife Service has agreed to purchase almost 1,000 hectares of land within the Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark.

“This acquisition will help to protect the rich and diverse nature and biodiversity of the area.

“Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is committed to ensuring our outstanding natural, built and cultural heritage is cherished and sustainably managed. This initiative will contribute to the achievement of this and will support the commitments set out in our Climate Change and Sustainable Development and Biodiversity Strategies.”

Extending across Fermanagh and Cavan, Cuilcagh mountain and its surroundings are ecologically important and unique because of the extent and variety of upland habitats that occur and the species that these habitats support. A region of extraordinary natural beauty, the Geopark has huge potential as a venue for education, recreation, outreach and appreciation of the value of nature and biodiversity.