MKO recently completed a periodic review of the Killarney National Park UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in conjunction with the National Parks & Wildlife Service and Kerry County Council. This internationally designated site is one of only two UNSCO Biosphere Reserves in Ireland. It is a requirement of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves that they are subject to a review every 10 years. This review involves an assessment of the reserve in terms of its core functions and objectives that were either set at the foundation of the reserve or during the previous periodic review.
During the periodic review process for the Killarney National Park Biosphere Reserve, it was recognised by UNESCO that the reserve did not meet its functions in terms of size and scale in that there was no designated buffer or transition zone surrounding the core area of the reserve (Killarney National Park). As a result, an expansion of the area of the park was required to include a much larger buffer area surrounding the core. This involved extensive planning and public consultation as well as significant changes to the way the Biosphere Reserve is managed. MKO worked very closely with NPWS and KCC to determine the new extents of the reserve, consult with the general public, devise a new scheme for governance and were responsible for drafting a periodic review document for submission to UNESCO in Paris.
The review document encompassed a review of the Reserve since its establishment and also set out the proposals and goals for the expanded Biosphere Reserve (renamed the Kerry Biosphere Reserve) along with providing information on the nature of the consultation and public engagement that was undertaken.
The Periodic Review Document was successfully submitted to UNESCO on time and was successful in ensuring that the reserve was retained by UNESCO.