The International EcoTourism Society (TIES) defines EcoToursim as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustain the well-being of the people and involves interpretation and education”
Principles of Ecotourism as defined by TIES:
Ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement, participate in and market ecotourism activities should adopt the following ecotourism principles:
Inishbofin Farm is owned and run by Simon Murray, Westquarter, Inishbofin, Co. Galway. Simon has run the farm since he was eighteen years of age, taking over from his father in full when he was 21. Simon was involved with the farm all through his childhood as well. Simon has always been committed to improving the farm over the years, having taken part in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) and has now joined the new Green Low carbon Agri-environmental Scheme (GLAS) in 2015 which will run for at least five years. While farming under GLAS Simon has committed the farm to restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems, promoting resources efficiency and supporting the shift towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy along with preserving water quality and the preservation of priority habitats and species. Under GLAS areas like knowledge transfer and innovation are also part of the whole overarching aspects to farming under this programme of improvements over the next five years.
The farm meets with all Department of Agriculture, EPA and EU guidelines and directives. The entire farm is within the Inishbofin Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Simon has participated in the Leave No Trace training and has adopted this policy for his farm and has committed to informing all his visitors and suppliers of the policy. Inishbofin Farm is committed to the use and purchase of environmentally and socially responsible products in order to reduce the impacts of the products on the environment and human health. As Inishbofin Farm is a traditional sheep farm and not an intensive farm we aim to keep all our activity respectful of the environment that we live in. After all we are the custodians of the land and make our living from the land so if we mess it up we will ruin the chances for the next generation.
On Inishbofin Farm there is no use of electricity/gas throughout the sheep farm as a source of energy. The farm is a traditional sheep farm and all the sheep farming is done outdoors.
The farm keeps its carbon down to a minimum by the use of only one vehicle, which is a quad bike.
The farm office is in the owner’s house and electricity is used for the computer and the light in the office. All power is switched off when not in use and lighting is with energy efficient bulbs.
Visitors are encouraged to use the public transport to get to the ferry port in Cleggan and while on the island to walk or cycle to the farm.
In general there is very low waste from the farm as the farm is not intensive. All plastic/glass/cardboard containers/bags are recycled using the Island recycling facility. Any pallets used in the delivery of feedstuff are returned to the suppliers for reuse. When replacing wire fencing the old wire is stored until the bi-annual metal collection on the island where all the metal is collected and shipped out for recycling.
All water troughs in the fields were replaced with ‘one drink’ water troughs as this prevents waste of water. The older type troughs were too wide and allow water evaporation on sunny days. In most fields there are existing drains/rivers which the farmer has created ‘set pools’ where the sheep can drink from thus reducing the use of mains water supply. (Mains water supply needs to be in all fields in case of dry summers).
Detergents and disinfectants are not used on the farm. Any washing of dosing guns/needles etc is done at the house and ‘Lilly’s’ eco friendly products are used.
There are no sewage/grey water treatment facilities on Inishbofin Farm as they are not required. The home/office has a septic tank/water treatment which is an Anua Puraflo primary, septic tank, and secondary peat biofilter system designed to meet all the needs of the house. The system is installed in accordance with Section 7.1.1 of the EPA Code of Practice 2009 for wastewater treatment system and disposal systems serving single houses. The tank is serviced and maintained on a regular basis. The house is situated on its own small site which is not part of the actual farm.
All visitors are encouraged to use the bus to travel to Cleggan where from there they get the ferry to Inishbofin. Visitors are advised to travel with as little waste products as possible and what they use to take it home for recycling. Visitors are encouraged to bring hard reusable water bottles and to stop using plastic disposable ones. While on the Island visitors are encouraged to walk or cycle and avoid hiring taxis to travel short distances.
In order to reduce pollution on Inishbofin Farm over the last ten years the farm only operates one vehicle and that is a Honda 350cc Quad. The quad is relatively light on petrol use thus keeping emissions to the minimum on the farm.
The farm also uses a boat to get to and from the surrounding islands which also make up part of the farm. The RIB is 5.5 meter. The previous outboard engine was a two- stroke 115hp Yamaha which was replaced last year with a 4 stroke 75hp Yamaha outboard. The new engine does not use two stroke oil and due to it being a four stroke uses about two thirds less petrol. Trips to the islands are on occasions such as dosing, shearing and moving the sheep. As the whole area is fishing ground there is very little disturbance from the farms occasional use of its boat. This is further proven by the seals ignoring the boat and the dolphins coming to play with the boat when near the islands.
All of Inishbofin Farm is in a Special Area of Conservation and part is also in a Special Protected Area. All the farm is privately owned by Simon and all visitors are informed of the ‘Leave no Trace’ code of conduct. While visiting Inishbofin Farm 100% of the visitors’ time is spent outdoors in nature and visitors get to experience nature in a very personal way while on the farm. The maximum amount of people is 6 on any experience so the visitor gets to hear about the SAC and SPA designations on the island and what they mean for the wildlife and the local population within the natural area of Inishbofin.
The farm participates in the Green Low carbon Agri-environmental Scheme (GLAS) and as part of the special measures is working to protect the Corncrake, Lapwing and the Barnacle Goose along with other measures to help the wildlife and biodiversity on Inishbofin. The owner of Inishbofin Farm is a founding member of the Inishbofin Conservation Initiative and is also a member of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.
Firstly the visitor gets to meet the owner, who is an islander bred, born and raised, when people travel to a destination they usually prefer to meet someone who has lived in the place that they want to learn about, and on Inishbofin Farm Simon is one of only three people actually born on the Island in the last seventy years. Simon's wealth of knowledge on Inishbofin and his lifelong involvement in farming, tourism and community development will give the visitor a great interpretation and education about life on Inishbofin, both from the farming background and in general. When out on the farm visitors are informed about the landscape and the history of the areas they are walking around with the opportunity to see and hear the different birds and animals throughout the farm. As an example many visitors are astounded that they can hear the rare corncrake while they are walking around the farm.
On a local level, Simon is one of the two original founding members of the Inishbofin Conservation Initiative, which was founded to sponsor important work on the island, including the “Save the Dunes” project on Dumhach Beach. On a national level, Simon is a member of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.
Inishbofin Farm is an active farm on the island and benefits the community in many ways. Simon employs local labour at certain times of the year when the activity on the farm demands extra help. The farm exports lamb/sheep which is a source of revenue for the freight boat which is a local employer. The farm is the biggest supplier of Inishbofin lamb to the island food festival each year. The local tourism community also benefits by having the opportunity to advertise the farm and its experiences to its customer base which will bring an increase in the number of passengers for the local ferry owners and the island’s hotels, bars, and restaurants will benefit as the visitors will need to eat/drink/stay while on the island.
Visitors’ satisfaction rates will be continual through visitors’ comments (visitors’ book, email) and visitors are encouraged to inform us of anything they think could be improved on or something they discovered elsewhere that could work as part of the farming experience. Inishbofin Farm will register on Tripadvisor and Facebook before the season starts this year.
The vast majority of our marketing for the Inishbofin Farm and our Eco Experiences will be done online through our website. www.inishbofinfarm.ie Any printed material will be on recycled paper but the intention is to keep this to a very minimum.
Inishbofin Farm wishes that all visitors enjoy their experience(s) with the farms activities and the message to all customers is to respect all animals and wildlife. The visitors are informed to respect the Leave no Trace principles while on Inishbofin. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the locals and to use the local hotels, pub, shop, restaurants, craft and heritage shops, community centre, diving, cycling, horse riding and angling and all island activity which will enhance the visitors experience of the islands culture and at all times to be aware of and respect the small island that they are visiting.
Ecotourism Ireland: www.ecotourismireland.ie
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) www.ecotourism.org
The International Ecotourism Club: www.ecoclub.ie
Responsible Travel: www.responsibletravel.com
Clifden Eco Beach Camping: www.actonsbeachsidecamping.com
Rock Farm Slane: www.rockfarmslane.ie
Dolphin Watch Carrigaholt: www.dolphinwatch.ie
Environmental Conservation Organisation that Inishbofin Farm supports:
Leave No Trace: www.leavenotrace.ie
Irish Whale and Dolphin Group: www.iwdg.ie
Fairtrade Ireland: www.fairtrade.ie
Inishbofin Conservation Initiative: www.inishbofin.com
Links to Environmental Conservation Organisations:
Friends of the Earth Ireland: www.foe.ie
Friends of the Irish Environment: www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org
Coastwatch Europe: www.coastwatch.org
Global Action Plan: www.globalactionplan.ie
Native Woodland Trust: www.nativewoodlandtrust.ie
Organisations that promote responsible travel:
Sustainable Travel International: www.sustainabletravel.org
Responsible Travel: www.responsibletravel.com
Global Sustainable Tourism Council: www.gstcouncil.org