INTEREST groups have gathered this weekend, to discuss how the Burren’s potential as a ‘learning landscape’ might be developed. A study exploring this potential, commissioned last year by Burrenbeo Trust, was launched at the Burren College of Art earlier in the week.
“The Burren is Ireland’s greatest outdoor classroom. While all places have a potential for learning, the Burren has that potential in abundance, thanks to the wealth and accessibility of its geology, flora, fauna, archaeology, history and culture. For many years, the Burren has been the destination of choice for school tours and university outings but its potential as a learning destination of international renown remains largely untapped,” said Dr Brendan Dunford of Burrenbeo Trust.
“The Burren’s pioneering initiatives in conservation farming, volunteering, place-based learning and ecotourism represent best-practice models of sustainable land use in our nation today and offer fascinating insights and experiences to other regions. With an excellent network of product and service providers – from accommodation to food producers, farmers’ co-ops to ecotourism networks – the Burren already has an infrastructure in place to support its further development as Ireland’s premier learning landscape,” he went on.
Over the last year, the Burrenbeo Trust commissioned a study to look at the potential of the Burren as a learning landscape and how this could be achieved. The findings from this study will be launched by Minister for Trade and Skills, Ciaran Cannon.
The Burrenbeo Trust is a local charity that believes that the best way to secure a sustainable future for the Burren is to nurture a culture of informed pride, ownership and responsibility among its people. The trust runs award-winning heritage courses for primary and second-level schoolchildren, as well as monthly learning events for adults, including walks, talks, volunteering days and festivals. It also produces high-quality publications.
Burrenbeo also organises an annual Learning Landscape Symposium, which features leading educators from the US and Europe, who have highlighted the value of place-based learning for physical and mental health, society and environment.
Burrenbeo highlight what they claim is the enormous potential of the Burren as an international destination of excellence in place based-learning.
According to a trust spokesperson, “The Burren is the ultimate ‘outdoor classroom’ for a truly hands-on learning experience, thanks to its unique geology, wildlife, culture and local knowledge. People from all over the world, from university students to Hollywood stars, are drawn to the Burren to share in a genuinely authentic and immersive learning experience.
“By developing the potential of the Burren as a learning landscape, Burrenbeo Trust aim to inspire people, local and visiting, about the Burren – and, ultimately, about their own place – through developing an immersive experience in the landscape. This learning industry can create jobs, support the local community and economy by utilising local venues and service providers and helping grow their business, while also investing in training and upskilling.
“By working together with other bodies to realise this vision, we have the opportunity to create a truly sustainable model of conservation and development for the Burren, its community and economy,” the spokesperson said.