Stakeholder Involvement: An Identified Invaluable Resource in the Management and Conservation of Ireland’s Natural Religious Heritage Croagh Patrick: Insights and Challenges
Keywords:Heritage conservation, Croagh Patrick Ireland, Natural Heritage Management, Stakeholder-Involvement, Sacred Site
This paper seeks to explore how the concept of stakeholder involvement has been applied for the very first time in the management and conservation of the 800 years old Ireland’s Holy mountain Croagh Patrick. In doing so, it explores factors that facilitate and hinder the effectiveness of this new-found partnership towards the sustainable management of this sacred natural site, which simultaneously serves as a place of pilgrimage and tourism. Crucial given scholarly demand for greater understanding of the opportunities and barriers that stakeholder involvement may entail, Woodland & Acott (2007), and even more crucial given that routes and directions for practically implementing sustainability in tourism remain unclear Walingo et al., (2013), and more importantly, the paucity of empirical research that explores the effectiveness and challenges in collaborative efforts towards the management of tourism at sacred sites, especially at holy mountains that are yet to be designated as world heritage sites within the religious and pilgrimage tourism scholarship (RPTS). Utilising a mixed-methodological approach to inquiry, and semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders across a range of stakeholder groupings, revealed crucial drivers and inhibitors to the partnership, to include issues of shared ownership, power dynamics, strategic management and stakeholder marginalisation and representativeness in decision-making and planning processes. The study has implications for the conservation/management of natural religious heritages/ landscapes where there is the need to understand the practicality in the formation of stakeholder groupings in the sustainable management of many such heritages.
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