As we enter the final day of what has been an exciting and really informative National Biodiversity Week 2022, Wicklow Uplands Council is delighted to be able to share the news that farm manager of Luggala Estate and board member of the Council, Michael Keegan, has been nominated for a Farming For Nature Award.
The national ‘Farming For Nature’ initiative, which acknowledges farmers working to enhance the natural health of our countryside, shares that Michael is actively involved in the local farming community, and he is very keen to share the story and development of Luggala Estate as an example for upland restoration, nature conservation and delivering various ecosystem services.
Set in the dramatic glacier-formed landscape high up in the Wicklow Uplands, the famed Luggala estate comprises 5,000 acres, which includes both SAC and SPA designated lands.This landscape has attracted walkers, climbers and sightseers for many decades, with the iconic view over Lough Tay being one of the most photographed locations in Ireland. Purchased in 2019, by Luggala Estate Ltd., the three full-time staff are undertaking a large restoration project on the land. The Luggala estate is a mix of upland blanket bog, dry heath, acid grassland, meadows, mixed woodlands some of which are native and some conifer plantations. There are also two large lakes and two rivers running through the land. A baseline study of habitat condition has informed decisions on the management of the estate.
Michael is now implementing an extensive environmental management plan throughout the entire estate. Actions to date include heather cutting to benefit red grouse and other species, treatment of the invasive Rhododendron plants in the woodland, bruising and treatment of bracken, repair and restoration of the traditional drystone walls on the estate, management of deer population including the culling of unhealthy animals, tagging and recording of raptors in conjunction with the NPWS, gathering seeds from native trees and shrubs on the estate for propagation and woodland restoration and gully planting with native trees and shrubs. Wildlife corridors have been identified and are informing the planting decisions.
Future plans include the incorporation of cattle to the land as a means of conservation grazing, re-wetting of blanket bog areas, additional planting of native trees and conversion of plantations to broadleaves.
Michael’s nomination comes from one of the Council’s member organisations Mountaineering Ireland, who would like to acknowledge Michael, and the committed team, who are actively striving to improve habitat conditions on the estate. The representative body for Ireland’s hillwalkers and climbers, are keen to highlight how upland habitats can be brought into better condition, and their belief that learnings from Luggala could inform upland management in other areas – something the Council very much also agrees upon.
The Council would like to whole-heartedly congratulate Michael and the entire estate team, for this recognition and the inspiring work they are undertaking to improve biodiversity in the heart of the uplands.
For more information and indeed to vote for Michael once it opens, please click HERE.
- Photos that accompany this post, capture Michael with a Peregrine chick, heather cutting on Knocknacloghoge and stone wall restoration works on the estate.