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Burren Marine Research Station Part of New NPWS and University of Galway Partnership Agreement

29th October 2023
Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan and the president of University of Galway Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh walk the Burren after signing the agreement between the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the University of Galway
Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan and the president of University of Galway Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh walk the Burren after signing the agreement between the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the University of Galway

A Burren-based marine and coastal research station stands to benefit from a new partnership agreement between the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the University of Galway.

The Finavarra centre on the Burren’s water’s edge at Rine, Co Clare, was set up as a base to support field work by visiting researchers, students and academics south of Galway Bay.

It is one of two centres managed by the university’s Ryan Institute which are central to the new partnership agreement.

The second, the Carron field research facility, was established by the university in 1975 and was named in honour of Professor Máirín de Valéra, who was appointed the first professor of botany at the university in 1962.

The partnership has been signed by Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan and the president of University of Galway, Profe Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh.

It will support programmes for academic research and study, participation in events which promote nature conservation, research and study in the Burren, and learning activities for students in local schools and University of Galway.

The partnership underpins shared management and access to the two facilities in the Burren region – the Carron field research facility and the Finavarra research station.

“This partnership will promote greater appreciation of the immense, intrinsic value of our rich natural heritage, reflected in the internationally renowned landscape here in the Burren,”Noonan said.

“For over 20 years now, the Burren National Park has been a place for nature conservation and enjoyment of visitors locally and from around the world,”he said.

“ It will now also be a place for learning. It will allow the University of Galway and the NPWS to cultivate a love of learning about nature in these magnificent surroundings which are home to so many rare and precious species and habitats,”he said.

“ It will attract students from local schools, the University of Galway and further afield to explore their research and learning in nature conservation, ecology, geology and archaeology,”he added.

Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said that the university has “a long tradition of connections with the Burren - from JR Tolkien, it is said, taking inspiration from the mystical landscape while an external examiner at the university; and Prof Máirín de Valera’s field work; and more recently our own students using the region as a living lab for learning”.

“ We are delighted to see new opportunities for teaching and learning, research and outreach for the university, in partnership with the NPWS in an area of such importance for biodiversity,”he said.

NPWS director general Niall Ó Donnchú noted that “it has often been said that ‘nature is the best tutor’, and this partnership will facilitate a greater understanding of our natural heritage by bringing teaching and learning out into nature itself”.

“Research, learning and outreach in the Burren will add to the growing educational offer and potential of our national parks,” he said.

The Burren region extends over some 450 sq. km in north-west Clare. The region is internationally renowned, due to its unique karst landscape, its abundance of plants, species and habitats, and its rich archaeological remains.

The Burren National Park, based within the region was established in 1991 to manage nature conservation and public access. The site is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and of major conservation value due to the many rare plants, animals and habitats. Team

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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.


At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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