Overlooking the coastal Gaeltacht village of Gweedore is Mount Errigal – the tallest peak in Co. Donegal and the second tallest in all of Ulster.




Atlantic Area Programme

It’s one of Ireland’s most beautiful sights but copious footfall and natural erosion has led to degradation in some parts of the mountain, including the loss of unique bio-diversity and bio-resources.

But thanks to a project led by Donegal County Council and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), innovative measures are being implemented to better manage and conserve the site for future use.

ASCENT, a three-year project launched in 2016, not only looks at improving the environmental sustainability

of Mount Errigal but is a collaboration between seven of Europe’s most beautiful sites in Northern Ireland, Iceland, Norway and Finland.

Rosita Mahony, ASCENT’s Lead Project Coordinator, says the project has three key objectives. Firstly, to bring international learning into a design phase across the five partner regions. Secondly, to apply techniques and solutions to maintain the natural resources of the regions, and lastly collaborate with stakeholders for long-term sustainability management.

Technology will play a key role in achieving these objectives.

“Over the past 20 years there has been an increased usage of the mountain and people enjoying the panoramic views and on top of that there has been an increased appetite for hiking which has become more accessible through technology and drone technology and people socialising information online,” says Ms.Mahony.

“One of the other key elements is we were tasked with designing mobile apps for all seven sites, and we use 3-D technology as a good way of monitoring the sites.”

Ms.Mahony proudly admits that ASCENT is an ambitious project made possible by EU funding.

“It couldn’t have been achieved without the funding,” she says. “It has allowed us to open up our networks to achieve our ambitious workplans.”

She adds: “There’s about half-a-million people to account for across the seven partner sites, all facing similar challenges so to be able to share solutions and collaborate is a huge benefit.”

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