The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has agreed to buy “almost 1,000ha” of land comprising mostly of upland blanket bog in Co Cavan, an Tánaiste Micheál Martin announced on Friday.

Much of the lands are designated as natura 2000 and are to form part of the world’s first cross-border geopark near the Cuilcagh Mountains, which will stretch into Co Fermanagh.

The announcement of a deal comes after the NPWS confirmed it bought for farmland in Co Wicklow.

The Tánaiste stated that the lands will be managed to make a “significant contribution” to the State meeting its targets to restore nature and improve biodiversity.

Unique conservation value

The lands have a “unique conservation value and remarkable concentration of upland habitats and species”, he said.

“Through the Government’s shared island local authority scheme, we are supporting development of a Cuilcagh lakelands geoPark plan for biodiversity conservation, climate action and regenerative tourism.

“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,” he added.

Natural beauty

NPWS director general Niall Ó Donnchú welcomed the move, saying it would allow for biodiversity to be managed on the lands.

“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,” he said.

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