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Ecotourism Policy

 

1.     Environmental sustainable practices


          Use of Energy

          Our electricity is provided by Airtricity, which is mainly sustainably                     sourced. We are achieving savings in electricity by the following:

   Low energy bulbs and solar lighting together with sensors

   No heating is used in the facilities

   Hot water management – wash at minimum effective temperatures using Eco programs and thermostatic mixing valve

   Providing soft water to appliances

   If possible only use appliances with AAA energy ratings

   Visitors are given the option to dry their clothes on clothes line instead of using the dryer

   Visitor are given information about how to save electricity, especially for camper vans and caravans

   A high efficiency (96%) oil burner is used to create hot water

   Highly efficient water pumping equipment is used in addition to pump protection

   Keeping artificial light to a minimum

   No electricity is provided to tents

   We are trying continuously to rethink energy sources and are trying to find the most suitable and sustainable up-to-date system for our campsite

          Waste disposal

          We endeavor to minimize waste creation by

   Buying in bulk where possible and practical – so reducing packaging

   Recycling paper/cardboard, plastic, glass, cans/tins, printer cartridges, batteries

   Sending correspondence and booking confirmation forms by email

   Disposing of batteries and electric equipment at the local recycling facility

   Disposing of low energy bulbs responsibly

   In order to reduce plastic waste from water bottles we sell reusable water bottles at a permanent discount price

   All silage plastic is collected and brought to the local recycling facility

 

          Water usage

          Source

Our water is sourced from beneath the protected dunes and is naturally filtered through the sands before receiving final polishing within the pump station. Where it is treated for final delivery through ion exchange, particle filtration and UV sterilization. There are no disinfection by-products with the use of UV, which is safe, reliable and chemical free. 

To protect and preserve the quality of this water source, the Department of Earth and Ocean Science was requested to undertake an assessment of the sand and gravel aquifer at this location. The report includes mapping & protection zones & forms the blueprint for the preservation of this supply. Additionally our water is tested annually by the EHO & regularly serviced thus guaranteeing high quality water.

 

To reduce and minimize the use of water on our campsite the following steps are taken:

   We make guests aware of water conservation in the bathrooms and in the kitchen

   We advise them that the water is soft in nature thus allowing for less shampoo, watching detergents etc.

   We have installed water saving appliances such as push buttons in the showers and sinks and dual flush buttons in the toilets to minimize water consumption

   Due to the quality of the water less hygiene and disinfection products are needed and less water used

 

          Use of Detergents and disinfectants

To reduce and minimize the use of detergents and disinfectants the fooling steps are taken:

   Use environmentally friendly washing and cleaning products throughout

   Provide environmentally friendly hand soap in all washrooms

   All our hygiene product are bought in bulk and containers refilled

   All visitors are encouraged to use environmentally friendly and biodegradable disinfectants, cleaning products and toiletries before arrival

   Portable toilet additives must be biodegradable, loos can be used without additives. Bio products available on site.

 

          Sewage/grey water effective treatment

All black and grey water is treated on site using a German designed biofilm aerated filter/intermittent sand filter and holding unit. Our biofilm aerated filter has been extensively tested at the Institute of Wastewater Technology in Aachen, Germany to achieve certification to En 12566, part 3. Treatment efficiency results far surpass the requirements of the Irish annex to En 12566-3. The system is designed as per the guidelines in Wastewater treatment manuals, treatment systems for small businesses (EPA) & is registered under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012.

We are certified in the manner in which we treat our waste, using the best performance systems available which have a proven track record of excellent effluent quality & reliability, coupled with high end expertise from a environmental hydro geologist & service technician .  


          Pollution from greenhouse gases, noise, light, runoff, erosion,                   ozone-depleting compounds, air and soil contaminants

Clifden ecoCampsite continues to strive towards a minimal environmental impact approach at this sensitive natural habitat site, on which it is located. We are lucky to be situated in a secluded rural environment away from noise and light pollution and air/soil contaminants. We endeavor to keep any contamination caused by our business to a minimum and ensure that our activities do not jeopardize provision of any basic services to neighboring communities. 

We

   Engage in ecological countryside management techniques on the land to manage erosion and eradicate drift waste

   Monitor and eliminate contaminants on land including invasive plant species

   Have an 'Eco Policy' displayed on website and campsite notice board

   Have an 'Ecotourism Policy' displayed on website and campsite notice board

   Have a 'Visitor Code of Practice' in place

   Encourage visitors to use public transport

 

          Transport

Travelling to the west of Ireland is never an easy issue to address especially travelling to a campsite, as most visitors have to bring a lot of provisions (i.e. tents, sleeping bags, supplies etc.). Bearing this in mind, we have developed an ecotourism product that makes it easy for campers to camp without motorized transportation in the following ways:

   Offer visitors a free 'pick up' and 'drop off' from and to the local bus station when travelling by public transport

   Offering packages with the use of bikes or electric bikes to explore the countryside and get supplies if needed from the local shops

   Encourage car sharing amongst guests when taking local tours

   Offer lifts into local towns when shopping or socializing

   Organize group pickups of individual guests where practical

   Provide a free shop service

   Offering a package where visitors can rent camping equipment to make travelling by public transport easier, convenient and more desirable

   Include in our package the use of electric or non-electric bikes

    Our campsite is located on the 'Wild Atlantic Way', which is also a national cycling route. Visitors can make use of a number of different loop routes from the campsite, which is also incorporated in our ecotourism package.

 

2.     Natural Area Focus

Our campsite is located on a listed EU Machair Habitat site, additionally seven Natura sites are within a 5 km radius of our site with Natura 2000 being a network of European ecological important sites, such as

   The West Connaught Coast SAC (site code 002998), which encompasses a diverse range of shallow marine habitats occurring in waters less than 100m deep which is believed to be important for Bottlenose Dolphins, which occur within the site at all seasons.

   Leagaun Machair (site code 001289). Machair is rare in Europe and is confined to the western seaboard of Ireland and Scotland.

   Kingstown Bay (site code 002265). Kingstown Bay is an unusually shallow and sheltered bay, which is of conservation importance for its excellent populations of red coralline algae.

   Barnahallia Lough (site code 002118). Barnahallia Lough is a good example of an oligotrophic system in a coastal location.

   Omey Island Machair (site code 001309). This site is of considerable conservation significance for the Machair, population of Petalophyllum Ralfsii and for the regular presence of two bird species, not to mention its archaeological importance.

   Eeshal Island (site code 000265). The island is of interest for Arctic Tern, Common Tern and breeding gulls.

   Aughrusbeg Machair and Lake (side code 001228). This area has a high level of habitat diversity within a relatively small area, containing an important example of a lowland oligotrophic lake.

   Cruagh Island (001973).  Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Fulmar are recorded from the island. Storm petrel are reported by Whilde to breed on the island.

   National park, which is home to Connemara Ponies, red deer and enormous variety of bird life, including skylarks, stonechats and peregrine falcons.

 

Clifden Eco Beach Camping and Caravanning Park has been visited by generations of geologist. The rocks along the coast near the campsite provide an outstanding opportunity to see what happens deep inside the earth’s crust when magma rises into it and volcanoes erupt on the surface. Outcrops of skarn, white fibrous wollastomite, green diopside and dark brown idocrase formed on this site and are some of the best examples anywhere in Europe and is a 'listed site'.

 

          Campsite

We have implemented a number of practices to minimize the impact of our campsite such as

-     Leave no Trace

-     Minimal impact camping

To preserve the important flora and fauna of the site, we have adopted a policy to space all campers at designated locations well apart and advise them to only use designated walkways. We have also tried to keep all development on the site to an   absolute minimum. We have no hard standings for campervans and caravans, keeping the site as natural as possible & preserving the natural habitat. In keeping the land as natural as possible it is our policy to bring campers back to nature by giving them a "real camping" experience through fishing, cooking on a campfire and doing other nature based activities but fundamentally providing a 'semi-wild' camping environment.

         

          Farming

In the past best practices with regard to the land would have been either not been regulated or not known by farmers. There would have been no restrictions on stock density, feeding practices or proximity to lakes and rivers. Today, to keep in line with EU farming regulations and organic practices and to protect the machair, we are fully compliant with recommended practices such as

   Keeping stock levels, which the land can bear on a sustainable basis

   Avoiding other species such as sheep

   No ploughing, harrowing or any other form of cultivation on the Machair

   Feeding only off the Machair with round feeders etc.

3.   Interpretation and Education

We offer self-guiding maps for walking and cycling to give visitors the opportunity to explore the area. We have a variation of field study guides available to visitors. We also have information specific to the machair site, the unique geology of the site and additionally information on all ecological sites within a five mile radius and the Connemara National Park on public display. We are in the process of producing a reading list  for visitors who want to know more about the ecology, history and culture of Connemara. We always encourage visitors to visit the Connemara National Park's interpretation center which offers a great source of information on Ireland's unique peat lands. In our packages we also give visitors the opportunity to explore the area through personal interpretation and we are always open to questions that arise for visitors.

 

4.   Contributing to Conservation

We are working with a wild life service the 'Irish Wildlife Trust' and we actively encourage visitors to support them through schemes such as our complimentary coffee and tea, so that visitors in return can donate a voluntary contribution. We are also members of the 'Irish Whale' and 'Dolphin Group'. We have been involved in local activities such as the Clifden Biodiversity Plan and we are continuously looking for opportunities in this area, we are aware the preservation of Connemara's nature is paramount. We continuously support numerous universities in their research, such as ecologists and geologists at this location. Research carried out in 2013 by the university of Leipzig discovered 8 different species of bumble bees on site, some of which are threatened and protected in other European countries and one of which the Irish population is very important globally. We provide information on the importance of habitat sites in the area and all current research carried out by universities is available to all our visitors. Unfortunately, we are not able to plant trees on the campsite due to numerous reasons such as the nature of the coast land but most importantly the protection of the habitat site where we are located. For these reasons we support the planting of trees in other areas such as using the company Broxo to supply salt for our water treatment. Broxo donates part of their profits to support the environment through planting a billion trees. Also we encourage all of our visitors to plant seeds by handing them out on departure. Due to the nature of the protected area we are in we are not in the position to establish a wildlife area. However, we are committed to protecting the unique wildlife that already exists on site. Nevertheless, we have installed bird and bat boxes on the site.

 

5.   Benefiting local communities

We support local employment and indigenous business, such as recommending local restaurants, pubs and shops. The local community benefits hugely from our campsite, as visitors are attracted to the uniqueness that it presents, and perhaps wouldn't visit this specific area if we didn't exist. We especially encourage visitors to visit the shop & pub in the local village (in high season on average 10 of our visitors per day visit the pub/shop) and the organic farm in the adjacent village of Cleggan, where visitors can also participate in farm walks or workshops. Food from this organic farm is also sold on location in the village shop and is also used in the food served in the village pub. All of this is communicated to our visitors on arrival. Visitors are encouraged to use local guides through advertisement on site with promotions and discounts. Visitors are also provided with information on local Arts & Crafts such as pottery, glass work & painting, and where to purchase. Works from Local photographers are also available to purchase on our campsite. We are working closely with other tourism operators in the area such as Kylemore Abbey, Inishbofin Ferries and Killary Cruises and we encourage guests to visit them through promotions and discounts. We also actively promote other local attractions through bundling and offering discounts to encourage visitors to use them. We have created a map of features within the immediate locality including historical sites, wells, walks, etc. which are available to visitors. We actively support the local community by being part of the annual 'Festival of the sea', which aids the up keep of the community hall and take part in beach clean ups in conjunction with the Cleggan/Claddaghduff Community Council. We also take part in any ecological or environmental events that are held locally, as they come about, such as the local biodiversity plan in Clifden.

 

6.  Visitor satisfaction

We have Visitor Evaluation Records available for visitors to comment on their experience. We are registered on tripadvisor, Yelp, Facebook and Google plus, here visitors can report their experiences to other travelers. We have a review of eco practices included within our visitor feedback sheets. Last year we issued over 100 feedback sheets and now have a system where visitors are encouraged to report & adverse environmental impacts.

 

7.  Responsible marketing

We are committed to communicate in an honest and clear manner our ecotourism product. We are aware of green washing practices and bearing this in mind our marketing and communications plan entails the following:

—   Nearly all our marketing and promotions are internet based through

o   Our website

o   Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc.

o   Online camping guides

o   Numerous links, message boards and forum

·       If flyers/posters are used, we use recycled paper and recycle, reuse and

     reduce materials to a minimum

·       Our marketing is highly targeted to our client group

·       Our website has an Eco information section, a Carbon offsetting scheme

     and displays our Environmental policy

·       Our website is continuously monitored and adjusted to keep up to date with target clients and new designations

·       We have a policy of linking up with as many relevant websites/blogs of environmental/Conservation and responsible travel organizations as possible

·       We have also links available on our website about general ecotourism and ecotourism organizations

·       All pictures published on our website are taken by us or visitors who get the opportunity to publish them directly on to our website

·       Nearly all the photographs published on our website are from the campsite and if not they are from relevant surrounding areas such as neighboring beaches or villages

·       We aim to give our visitors as much information as possible about the site or surrounding areas by providing them with maps, guide books or reports from universities that have visited our site

·       We are working on introducing a nature diary for visitors

·       We have published links on our website with information on ecotourism and other information that is relevant to the ecology of our site and the surrounding area.

·       We inform all visitors on arrival about the dangers that storms can pose and give them a choice of a sheltered pitch or one with a view, some of which are not sheltered

·       We have an information section on our website informing people what to bring to the campsite

 

8.    Cultural respect and awareness

We encourage all our visitors to interact with locals in the nearby pubs and on the walks to the islands and promote actively any local activities to tourists. We also allow local neighbors to use the beach, the rocks for fishing and the natural harbor for mooring their fishing boats. Thus giving a unique opportunity for visitors to directly engage on site with fishermen, some of which formally resident on the Islands off the West Coast.