The innovative East Cork Bird Trail created a trail that provides extensive interpretative resources.
South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD) is Local Action Group (LAG) managing an area of international importance for its bird life and wetland habitats. In response to the increasing need for development that would not jeopardise the preservation of these fragile natural resources, the LAG developed a strategy that combines the environmental conservation with economic activities.
The key feature of the area is the bird trail which consists of 28 locations. The project set up interpretative signs for these locations where visitors can stop and observe birdlife. Visitors can also use their smart phone to get additional information. As part of the trail development extensive community consultation was undertaken to identify suitable locations and collect information about the local history and anecdotes to be included on the signs. Promotional material was produced including a short video, a dedicated website and map pad. In addition, market research was conducted to support the promotion of the trail at national and international level.
The trail helped increase the number of visitors. The navigation aspect of the website allows visitors to travel easily between locations while encouraging them to stay and explore the area.
Local area enhancement has been a key output of the project. New picnic areas have been developed and areas opened up to the public which had been closed off.
The Bird Trail with its clear eco-tourism and eco-education objectives, forms part of the Ring of Cork which is an innovative regional initiative to promote the area.
Feedback from service providers and visitors to the area has demonstrated a significant increase in demand for activities, which draws upon the areas natural beauty and ecological assets.