Crowds pose threat to Cuilcagh

FEARS are growing the Cuilcagh Mountain boardwalk has become so popular it is now threatening the fragile ecosytem it was built to protect.
The popularity of the boardwalk has grown so rapidly over the past four years the Marble Arch Geopark has been struggling to cope. The geopark has been working continually to counter this and has implemented a range of measures to protect the precious peatland bog. Indeed, the boardwalk itself was built as a means to protect that bog, not as a tourist attraction, in the first place.
Now, an environmental report by the UK government has singled out Cuilcagh as an example of how peatlands can generate tourism, but sometimes at cost to the peatland itself.
“A peatland now popular with tourists is the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ at Cuilcagh Mountain in Northern Ireland,” states the report published by the Office for National Statistics.
“A boardwalk was built to protect the environmentally important sensitive peat bog from erosion. However, due to social media it has not become one of the top attractions in Northern Ireland as people want to share selfies from the 665 metre summit.
“Prior to its opening in 2015 it attracted less than 3,000 visitors per year. In 2016 this rose to 24,00 visitors, and 70,000 in 2017. This increased popularity has threatened to damage the peatland the walk way was built to protect.”
The bog isn’t the only victim of the boardwalk’s popularity. There have been repeated traffic problems on the once quiet roads leading to its entrance, and parking has also been problematic, particularly on bank holidays and warm days.

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