Minister Simon Coveney was in Fota Wildlife Park today Friday 9th November to present the prestigious ‘Green Flag’ to the Cork Attraction on behalf of An Taisce.
Fota Wildlife Park is the first Zoological Institution in Ireland to be accredited with the prestigious international ‘Green Flag’ award. The accreditation, granted by An Taisce, was for their work on the An Taisce ‘Eco-Centre’ Programme and followed two years of sustained work and a rigorous assessment by an expert panel.
The award was presented by Minister Simon Coveney, who acknowledged the “hard work” the staff at the park had put into this “Eco Centre” over the last 2 years. Minister Coveney said “Fota Wildlife Park is doing a lot of good things right now and this is certainly one them, they are leading the way in educating both families and schools in the areas of Conservation and Biodiversity which shows the park is more than just a place for entertainment”.
The An Taisce ‘Eco-Centre’ programme, was undertaken by Fota Wildlife Park staff and its catering partners – Kudos Catering within the last 2 years and included Fota Wildlife Park’s campaign “Going Green – Staying Green”. This work had the objective of reducing the park’s ecological footprint.
As a result of various aspects of the programme, Fota Wildlife Park has increased its recycling rate from 21% to 62%, developed systems for composting food waste generated onsite from cafes, restaurants and animal food preparation areas, integrated sustainability elements such as rain water harvesting, solar panels and a wood boiler into new buildings on the site. Fota Wildlife Park has also undertaken a number of educational and outreach events including a European Week of Waste Reduction (EWWR) event for families.
The programme at Fota has also benefited greatly from the assistance of Cork County Council, particularly Dr. Mary Stack, through other programmes such as the National Waste Prevention Programme which is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. Patricia Oliver, Director of the Environmental Education Unit of An Taisce said ”We are delighted that Fota has reached this milestone and is setting the international standard; we are also delighted with the support that Fota and the An Taisce ‘Eco-Centre’ Programme have received from Cork County Council.”
According to Fota’s Head of Education – Lynda Mc Sweeney Walsh “Fota Wildlife Park remains committed to this programme long-term and already plans are underway to ensure that additional measures will lead to reductions in both energy and water consumption on-site within the next year. Without doubt the last twelve months have proven to be challenging but we are delighted with the achievements attained to-date and we recognise that this is just the start of what will be a long-term commitment on Fota Wildlife Park’s behalf. We are grateful for both the assistance and support of Cork County Council and An Taisce in attaining this award.”
An Taisce ‘Eco-Centres’ programme is an international programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education that is applicable for educational centres that are not necessarily schools. The methodology for the programme is based on the hugely successful Green-Schools programme and promotes whole centre action towards a sustainable environment through a seven step process. The award requires renewal on a regular basis.