The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £2m to protect Mid Ulster and Tyrone’s ancient landscape in a new partnership scheme.
The Heart of Ancient Ulster Landscape Partnership will conserve 144km2 of outstanding Neolithic landscape and reconnect the local community to its unique natural, built and cultural heritage.
Grants range from £100k-£3m and HLF has invested almost £40m in Northern Ireland to help conserve key species and habitats.
Today’s announcement includes a development award of £85,000 to enable Mid Ulster District Council to fully develop the proposals, made in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and a local stakeholder group.
They include plans to deliver a number of projects over five years.
Activities incorporate the protection and promotion of the landscape’s archaeology, creating the first Dark Sky Reserve in Northern Ireland, restoring and maintaining over 25,000 hectares of bog, reducing carbon emissions from peatland, recruiting volunteers to help plant 100,000 native trees and increasing access to the landscape with 10km of new trails and walks.
Paul Mullan, Head of HLF Northern Ireland, said: “This extraordinary rural and isolated landscape has been preserved in time and allows us to step back 10,000 years to explore and experience it in the same way as our ancient ancestors.
“It is hugely important in local and national terms and we are delighted that money raised by National Lottery players is helping to protect and conserve it.”
Councillor Trevor Wilson, Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, added: “This area is rich in archaeology which shows communities have been living among its hills and valleys for at least 7,000 years.
“We wish to protect it while ensuring an important part of our ancient heritage can be enjoyed. The initial funding of £85,000 from Heritage Lottery Fund is substantial and will allow us to consider our plans in more detail. I’m delighted with the award.”