We are committed to the continued development and operation of Carne around a vision of social, environmental and economic sustainability. This is really an extension of golfs’ roots – an evolution of age old values. Sustainable courses respect their surroundings and honour the natural environment, ensuring the conservation of landscape and eco-systems, resource efficiency and community integration. Our core values can be summarised as follows:-
- Enhancing natural habitats and eco-systems;
- Improving overall environmental quality;
- Treading lightly on natural resources.
Carne Golf Links is a unique site and already has a head start on many other courses due to the way in which it was developed, with the course being sculpted out of the natural environment, very little interference in the natural landscape, no earth moving equipment involved, and very little environmental impacts on the dunescape from the development. The course at Carne is still in a very natural condition, not manicured to the same extent as other Links courses, and we aim to put environmental stewardship at the heart of all future business developments and decisions.
As part of our environmental stewardship journey we are working towards an ecological preservation initiative for Carne Golf Links, to be built around the abundance of various protected species and wildlife on the site at Carne, which include:-
- “Whorl Snails” on the site at Carne, of which there are eight species in Ireland, all of which are rare, and six of the eight species are protected. These thrive in the Dune landscape, live to just over a year old, but are very vulnerable to the effects of negative changes in wetness conditions, and have been lost from many sites in Ireland and across the EU, and their habitat at Carne requires careful management;
- Ireland has only one native frog species, listed as an internationally important species and protected under the Habitats Directive due to declining populations. There is an active and widespread frog population across the course at Carne, which spawn in Spring and rest up in Autumn for the winter months. Streams and ponds require careful management to protect the population;
- There is also an extensive Irish hare population at Carne, which are also protected.
- An extensive butterfly and moth population. The Dark Green Fritillary is classed as vulnerable and previously hadn’t been recorded in Erris, but has been spotted on the golf course and the surrounding dune land seems to be a good area for them. There has also been sightings of Small Heath butterflies classified as near threatened.
Given the wild natural landscape, the course requires additional management to ensure that the habitats of these species are undisturbed. This involves more manual labour rather than using machinery in certain areas, and is therefore more labour intensive. It also requires careful management of sprays and course applications and again, this leads to higher costs in the short term. Including these protective measures within the development of a course plan that, alongside protecting natural habitats within Carne, is also the most drought and disease tolerant and leaves the smallest possible turfgrass footprint, is a key element in the ecological protection of Carne.
To embed the long term management of working in such an environmentally and ecologically protective way, Turasoireacht Iorrais Teo is to introduce the “Carne Conservation Project” to map our journey and we commit to the following actions:
- Work towards a full mapping exercise of all the various wildlife species at Carne, and develop operational guidelines that protect the habitats and species in the long-term;
- Ensure any irrigation system upgrades have sustainability principles at their core in planning, construction, and implementation;
- Introduce recycling targets across the business, including no single use plastics by the end of 2022;
- Work towards achieving a defined percentage of renewable energy usage, with a view to eventually becoming a net energy exporter;
- Work towards ensuring a central ethical and environmentally friendly procurement policy, with a traceable supply chain across the business;
- Commitment to a “carrying capacity” – this is the amount of an activity that a facility can support sustainably without showing environmental or ecological deterioration in the longer term i.e. the capping of visitor rounds at 12k per year, which, whilst protecting the overall tourism experience at Carne, would also protect the unique environment;
- Develop initiatives to involve other users in the facility – local people and communities to ensure diverse community access to the facilities at Carne;
- Create growth by adding to and diversifying the facilities at Carne and thereby adding increased benefit to the wider community;
- Make a determined part of the legacy of Carne to multiply meaningful benefits for local people into the future;
- Celebrate sustainability achievements.