Mission Statement:

We endeavour to bring people back to the simplicity of camping to show them how nourishing, empowering and relaxing it is to immerse yourself in nature. We are very fortunate to live in this amazing location, which has a tremendous positive impact on our mental and physical wellbeing and we love to share this experience with our visitors.

We believe that sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts while addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.

We hope that a pure nature experience brings our visitors closer to their surroundings by inspiring and encouraging them to leave with the knowledge that it is important to preserve the environment as a whole and hopefully implement some of our policies into their everyday lives.

1. Environmental sustainable practices

Use of Energy

Our electricity is provided by Energia, which is mainly sustainably sourced. In addition to this, we are trying to save electricity by
• Low energy bulbs and lighting together with sensors
• No heating is used in the facilities
• Hot water management – wash at minimum effective temperatures using Eco programs and thermostatic mixing valve
• Providing soft water to appliances
• If possible only use appliances with AAA energy ratings
• Visitors are given the option to dry their clothes on clothesline instead of using the dryer
• Campervans and caravans are only supplied with a low supply of electricity ] • A high-efficiency (96%) oil burner is used to create hot water
• Highly efficient water pumping equipment is used in addition to pump protection equipment
• Keeping artificial light to a minimum
• No electricity is provided to units that are not approved.
• We are trying continuously to rethink energy sources and are trying to find the most suitable and sustainable up-to-date system for our campsite

Waste disposal

To minimize waste creation we
• Buy in bulk where possible and practical – so reducing packaging
• Recycling paper/cardboard, plastic, glass, cans/tins, printer cartridges, batteries etc.
• Sending correspondence and booking confirmation forms by email
• Dispose of batteries and electric equipment at the local recycling facility
• Dispose of low-energy bulbs responsibly
• To reduce plastic waste we have banned all single-use plastics from our site and are selling reusable water bottles at a permanent discount price
• Banned disposable BBQ’s from the campsite
• Encourage visitors to use 2 bin bags to make it easier to separate the waste.

Water usage

Source

Our water is sourced from beneath the dunes and is naturally filtered through the sands before receiving final polishing within the pump station. This is where the water is treated for final delivery through ion exchange, particle filter and UV sterilisation. There are no disinfection by-products with the use of UV, which is safe and chemical-free. To protect and preserve the quality of this water source, the Department of Earth and Ocean Science was requested to assess the sand and gravel aquifer at this site. This report forms the blueprint for the preservation of this supply.

To reduce and minimize the use of water on the campsite the following steps are taken:

• We make guests aware of water conservation in the bathrooms and the kitchen
• We advise them that the water is soft thus allowing for less shampoo, watching detergents etc.
• We have installed water-saving appliances such as push buttons in the showers and sinks and dual flush valves in the toilets to minimize water consumption
• Flow rates are restricted to a min as is the volume of the water in the WC.
• We have installed a coin-operated meter in the shower to minimize water consumption
• Due to the quality of the waterless hygiene and disinfection products are needed and less water used

Use of Detergents and disinfectants

To reduce and minimize the use of detergents and disinfectants the following steps are taken:

• Use environmentally friendly washing and cleaning products throughout
• Provide environmentally friendly hand soap in all washrooms
• All our hygiene products are bought in bulk and containers refilled
• All visitors are encouraged to use environmentally friendly and biodegradable disinfectants, cleaning products and toiletries before arrival
• We have completely banned the formaldehyde-based toilet liquid, which means that visitors are informed before arrival that they can’t empty their portable toilets on the site unless they have an environmentally friendly product or don’t use an additive at all.

Sewage/grey water effective treatment

All black and grey water is treated on-site using a biofilm aerated filter and holding unit, which gives much longer desludging intervals than most systems and can function under shock loading. However, it’s an objective of this campsite to de-sludge on an annual basis resulting in better effluent water quality. Our biofilm aerated filter has been extensively tested at the Institute of Wastewater Technology in Aachen, Germany to achieve certification to En 12566, part 3, designed as per the guidelines in Wastewater treatment manuals, treatment systems for small businesses (EPA 1999). All bio-aerated filters are followed by an intermittent sand filter, which produces high-quality effluent. Our treatment system has been sensitively located outside the machair habitat boundaries and the protection zones of the aquifer. Given the geology in the area, all water from this system will drain down and away from the aquifer, thus having no impact on the ground or seawater in the vicinity.

Pollution from greenhouse gases, noise, light, runoff, erosion, ozone-depleting compounds, air and soil contaminants
Clifden Eco Beach campsite is working towards a minimal environmental impact approach on the natural habitat site on which it is located. We are lucky to be situated in a secluded rural area away from noise and light pollution and air/soil contaminants and we aim to keep any contamination caused by our business to a minimum and ensure that our activities do not jeopardize the provision of any basic services to neighbouring communities. We
• Engage in ecological countryside management techniques on the land to manage erosion and eradicate drift waste
• Monitor and eliminate contaminants on the land including invasive plant species
• Have an Eco Policy displayed on the website and Campsite notice board
• Have an Ecotourism Policy displayed on the website and Campsite notice board
• Have a Visitor Code of Practice in place
• Have a carbon calculator on our website with information on how to reduce and offset carbon emissions
• Encourage visitors to use public transport and bikes
• Give visitors complimentary vegetable/herb seeds to encourage them to offset their emissions
• Are 100% climate neutral through the Southpole Global
• Discourage the use of electronic devices on the campsite to enable more family interaction. The campsite is a limited electronic zone where wifi is only available at reception to adults seeking information in addition to emails.

Transport

Travelling to the west of Ireland is never an easy issue to address especially travelling to a campsite, as most visitors have to bring a lot of items (i.e. tents, sleeping bags, supplies etc.). Bearing this in mind, we have developed an ecotourism product that makes it easy for campers to camp without motorized transportation in the following ways:
• Offer visitors a pickup and drop off from and to the local bus station when arriving by public transport
• Offering packages with the use of bikes to explore the countryside and get supplies if needed from the local shops
• Encourage carpooling amongst guests when taking local tours
• Offer lifts into local towns when shopping or socializing
• Organize group pickups of individual guests where practical
• Provide a free shop service
• Offering a package where visitors can rent camping equipment to make travelling by public transport easier, more convenient and more desirable
• Include in our package the use of bikes
• The campsite is located on the main Atlantic Way route, which is also a national cycling route. Visitors can make use of a number of different routes from the campsite, which are also incorporated into our ecotourism package.

2. Natural Area Focus

Our campsite is located on a listed EU habitat site, additionally, seven Natura sites are within a 5 km radius of our site with Natura 2000 being a network of European ecological important sites, such as
• The West Connaught Coast SAC (site code 002998), which encompasses a diverse range of shallow marine habitats occurring in waters less than 100m deep is believed to be important for Bottlenose Dolphins, which occur within the site at all seasons.
• Leagaun Machair (site code 001289). Machair is rare in Europe and is confined to the western seaboard of Ireland and Scotland.
• Kingstown Bay (site code 002265). Kingstown Bay is an unusually shallow and sheltered bay, which is of conservation importance for its excellent populations of red coralline algae.
• Barnahallia Lough (site code 002118). Barnahallia Lough is a good example of an oligotrophic system in a coastal location.
• Omey Island Machair (site code 001309). This site is of considerable conservation significance for the Machair, population of Petalophyllum Ralfsii and for the regular presence of two bird species, not to mention its archaeological importance.
• Eeshal Island (site code 000265). The island is of interest for Arctic Terns, Common Terns and breeding gulls.
• Aughrusbeg Machair and Lake (side code 001228). This area has a high level of habitat diversity within a relatively small area, containing an important example of a lowland oligotrophic lake.
• Cruagh Island (001973). Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Fulmar are recorded from the island. Storm petrels are reported by Whilde to breed on the island.
• National park, which is home to Connemara Ponies, red deer and an enormous variety of bird life, including skylarks, stonechats and peregrine falcons.

Clifden Eco Beach Camping and Caravanning Park has been visited by generations of geologists because the rocks along the coast near the campsite provide an outstanding opportunity to see what happens deep inside the earth’s crust when magma rises into it and volcanoes erupt on the surface. Outcrops of skarn, white fibrous wollastonite, green diopside and dark brown idocrase formed on this site and are some of the best examples anywhere in Europe and are a listed site.

Campsite

We have implemented several practices to minimize the impact of our campsite such as
– Leave no Trace
– Minimal impact camping
To preserve the important flora and fauna of the site, we have adopted a policy to space all campers at designated locations well apart and advise them to only use designated walkways. We have also tried to keep all development on the site to an absolute minimum. We have no hard standings for campervans and caravans keeping the site as natural as possible and preserving the natural habitat of the site. In keeping the land as natural as possible it is our policy to bring campers back to nature by giving them a “real camping” experience through fishing, cooking on a campfire and doing other nature-based activities but fundamentally providing a semi-wild camping environment.

We ensure that we do not impede local residents’ access to historical, archaeological, cultural or spiritually important sites (listed Geosite). Local access to this site is considered in any decisions we make about the development and operations of our business. It is an objective and policy of Clifden Ecobeach Park to allow access by appointment.

3. Interpretation and Education

• We offer two self-guided tours (in English, French and German) for walking and cycling to give visitors the opportunity to explore the local history and folklore of the area.
• We have a variation of field study guides and nature diary available for visitors. Some of this information is also available in French.
• We have information specific to the Machair site, the unique geology of the site and additional information on all ecological sites within a five-mile radius and the Connemara National Park on public display.
• We always encourage visitors to visit the National Parks interpretation centre which offers a great source of information on Ireland’s unique peatlands.
• Every year we involve children through competitions with environmental, ecological or historical themes to learn more about environmental issues or about the area.
• We promote the “Wednesday music session” in the local pub where visitors are invited to join in and participate. If needed we organize carpooling for the visitors with no cars or who wish to drink.
• In our packages we also allow visitors to explore the area through personal interpretation and we are always open to questions that arise from visitors.
• All visitors are kept up to date through social media, newsletters and our website news about our ecotourism product.

4. Contributing to Conservation

• We are working with a wildlife service and we actively encourage visitors to support them through schemes such as our complimentary coffee and tea for visitors in return for a voluntary donation to an environmental charity.
• We support the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group with yearly donations.
• We have been involved in local activities such as the Clifden Biodiversity Plan and we are continuously looking for opportunities in this area, we are aware the preservation of Connemara’s nature is paramount.
• We continuously support numerous universities in their research, such as ecologists and geologists at this location. Research carried out in 2013 by the University of Leipzig discovered 8 different species of bumble bees on site, some of which are threatened and protected in other European countries and one of which the Irish population is very important globally.
• We provide information on the importance of habitat sites in the area and all current research carried out by universities is available to all our visitors.
• We are engaged with Clean Coasts Ireland and organize regular beach clean-ups where we manage 1.2 km of coastline. All our visitors are encouraged to get involved, and bags and gloves are provided to everybody who participates.
• We have started the “Take Three” initiative where all visitors are encouraged through social media, information on the site and our self-guided tours to pick up three pieces of waste from the local beaches and place them into a designated waste bin on the campsite.
• We encourage all of our visitors to plant by handing out welcome packs of herb/vegetable and flower seeds on arrival.
• We are committed to protecting the unique wildlife that already exists on site. A salt marsh is established on the site, where wildlife can flourish without being disturbed by our visitors.
• Bird and bat boxes have been installed on the site.

We are dedicated to abstaining from the acquisition, breeding, or captivity of any species of wild animals as a component of our activities. We remain well-informed about the relevant laws and regulations concerning the captivity of wildlife and the welfare of animals. We are dedicated to complying with all rights and laws governing artefacts and archaeological objects discovered on our property. We will abstain from any sale, trade, or exhibition of these findings unless we secure proper authorization in accordance with both local and international legislation.

5. Benefiting local communities

• We support local employment and indigenous businesses, such as recommending local restaurants, pubs and shops.
• The local community benefits hugely from our campsite, as visitors are attracted to the uniqueness that it presents, and perhaps wouldn’t visit the area if we didn’t exist.
• We especially encourage visitors to visit the shop in the local village (in high season on average 20 of our visitors per day visit the pub/shop). Food from the local organic farm is sold at the campsite in the summer months and in the village shop and is also used in the food served in the village pub. All of this is communicated to our visitors on arrival.
• Visitors are encouraged to use local guides through advertisements on sites with promotions and discounts.
• Visitors are provided with information on local Arts & Crafts such as pottery and glasswork, and where to purchase it.
• Works from Local photographers are also available to purchase on our campsite.
• We are working closely with other tourism operators in the area such as Kylemore Abbey, Inishbofin Ferries and Killary Cruises and we encourage guests to visit these through promotions and discounts.
• We actively promote other local attractions through bundling and offering discounts to encourage visitors to use them.
• We have created two self-guided tours of features within the immediate locality including historical sites, wells, walks, etc. which are available to visitors.
• We take part in beach clean-ups in conjunction with the Cleggan/Claddaghduff Community Council/An Taisce Clean Coasts
• We also take part in any ecological or environmental supporting events that are held locally, as they come about, such as the local biodiversity plan in Clifden.
• We have been actively supporting the local community by being part of the annual ‘Festival of the Sea’, which aids the upkeep of the community hall.

As a micro-business, our commitment is to prioritize and support local employment opportunities for residents in our community. We believe in fostering economic growth, strengthening local ties, and contributing to the prosperity of our area. To measure and manage this commitment, we will implement specific strategies, these include local hiring policies, collaboration with local organisations and skill development. By implementing these strategies and regularly reviewing our progress, we aim to ensure that our micro-business remains a cornerstone of local employment and a catalyst for the growth and well-being of our community.

6. Visitor satisfaction

• We have Visitor Evaluation Records and an online survey available for visitors to comment on their experience.
• We are registered on Tripadvisor, yelp, Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and Instagram where visitors can report their experiences to other travelers.
• We have a review of eco practices included within our visitor feedback sheet. Feedback sheets are available to visitors in our public area and they are encouraged to fill out a survey via email.

7. Responsible marketing

We are committed to communicating in an honest and clear manner our ecotourism product. We are aware of greenwashing practices and bearing that in mind our marketing and communications plan entails the following:
All our marketing and promotions are internet-based through
o Our website
o National Tourism Board
o Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc.
o Online camping guides
o Numerous links, message boards and forums
• If flyers/posters are used, we use recycled paper and recycle, reuse and
reduce materials to a minimum, where the production is climate-neutral
• Our marketing is highly targeted to our client group
• Our website has an Eco information section, a Carbon offsetting scheme
and displays our Environmental policy
• Our website is continuously monitored and adjusted to keep up to date with target clients and new designations
• We have a policy of linking up with as many relevant websites/blogs of environmental/Conservation and responsible travel organizations as possible
• We have also links available on our website about general ecotourism and ecotourism organizations
• All pictures published on our website are taken by us or visitors who get the opportunity to publish them directly onto our website
• Nearly all the photographs published on our website are from the campsite and if not they are from relevant surrounding areas such as neighbouring beaches or villages
• We aim to give our visitors as much information as possible about the site or surrounding areas by providing them with maps, guide books or reports from universities that have visited our site
• A nature diary is available for visitors
• We have published links on our website with information on ecotourism and other information that is relevant to the ecology of our site and the surrounding area.
• We inform all visitors on arrival about the dangers that storms can pose and give them a choice of a sheltered pitch or one with a view, some of which are not sheltered
• We have an information section on our website informing people what to bring to the campsite
• Affiliated with Failte Ireland (Green Hospitality) and Wild Atlantic Way

8. Cultural respect and awareness

• We encourage all our visitors to interact with locals in the nearby pubs and on the walk to the islands and promote actively any local activities to tourists. To be aware of the right to private property.
• We also allow local neighbours to use the beach, the rocks for fishing and the natural harbour for mooring their fishing boats. Thus giving a unique opportunity for visitors to directly converse on-site with fishermen, some of whom were formally resident on the Island off the West Coast.

We acknowledge the importance of following international and national good practices and locally agreed guidance for the management and promotion of visits to indigenous communities and culturally or historically sensitive sites to minimise adverse impacts and maximise local benefits and visitor fulfilment. As part of our commitment, we educate and inform our guests on best practice conduct before recommending visits to such sites or communities.

Ethical Purchasing Policy

Our purchasing practices are guided by a commitment to using and selling sustainable products and services whenever available.

We give priority to suppliers that have environmental certifications, including those for accommodation, wood, paper, fish, and other food products. For example: leaflets, cleaning products

Where certified products are not available, we consider the origin and methods of production.

Our policy is designed to ensure that our purchasing practices align with our values and principles, including our commitment to protecting threatened species by not using or selling items derived from such species.

We are committed to:

• Purchase certified sustainable and ethical products where possible and available, giving priority to suppliers that have environmental certifications, including those for accommodation, wood, paper, and other products ie. Flyers.
Were certified products not available we consider the origin and methods of production

• We also give priority to locally owned and operated service providers, including those that support local communities and employment. We provide support and opportunities for collaboration with local entrepreneurs in the development and sale of sustainable products and services based on the area’s natural history and culture i.e. Promoting Neighbour food initiatives and local markets

• Our policy is designed to ensure that our purchasing practices align with our values and principles, including our commitment to protecting threatened species by not using or selling items derived from such species.

• Communicate with our suppliers to our suppliers our commitment to reducing packaging and request minimal or if possible no packaging for the products we purchase.

• Encourage suppliers to use packaging that can be returned, refilled or re-purposed.

• Opt for products which come in reusable containers or packaging where possible

• Order in bulk to minimize individual packaging

• To reduce our consumption and only buy what we need.

• Ensure that all suppliers adhere to safe and ethical working practices.

• Waste prevention incl food waste

• The purchase of renewable energy (our current provider is Energia which supplies us with 100% renewable energy)

• To educate our guests to reduce food waste (we don’t supply food to our guests ourselves)

• To replace all electric appliances with energy-efficient A-rated appliances such as fridges, washing machines etc

The following is a list of purchases:

Office
– Recycled paper is used and paper and double-sided print settings are applied
– We are in the process of sourcing environmentally friendly ink
– We try to promote all our activities on the web
– We prioritize suppliers that have an environmental policy in place

Organic food
– We provide campers with fair-trade tea, coffee and sugar
– We advise all our campers about local markets and the local organic farm
– Over the summer months the local organic farm sells their produce as a “pick & pay” box on the campsite
– We encourage all visitors to use the local shop and advise them that they can reach it easily by bike

Campsite
– When purchasing equipment for the campsite we aim to source only high energy-efficient appliances
– We use Irish suppliers for our ecological cleaning products and order in bulk to reduce packaging and delivery
– We use only sustainably sourced wood and firelighters for our campfires and have them delivered in bulk
– We agree with suppliers that their packaging is returned where possible

Sewage treatment/water treatment
– High-quality equipment is used to reduce energy usage and waste
– We ensure that the suppliers of our water enhancement products have a strong sustainable plan both for themselves and their supply chain