Managing the cultural landscape of Sceilg Mhichíl: connecting nature and culture in a multi-stakeholder management effort

Office of Public Works
Publicado: 05 Octubre 2020
Última edición: 07 Mayo 2021
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Sceilg Michíl is one of the world’s most spectacular example of early medieval extreme monastic sites located on the Great Skellig, a sandstone island raising 218m above the Atlantic Ocean. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1996. Additionally, the two Skelligs (Great and Litte Skellig) are also internationally recognised as Key Biodiversity Areas as one of the most important breeding grounds for seabirds.

The management of this place requires an integrated nature-culture approach taking into consideration both the rich natural and cultural values of the place.

The island is managed on the basis of the wider recognition of its multiple values (natural, cultural, social and economic) and access to the island is regulated to ensure the protection and conservation of the place’s natural and cultural values. This is put in place through a system of inter-agency cooperation and constant consultation with local actors and communities living on the Iveragh Peninsula.


Norte de Europa
Scale of implementation
Arrecife rocoso / orilla rocosa
Buildings and facilities
Ecosistema urbano
Ecosistemas marinos y costeros
Actores locales
Comunicación y divulgación
Gestión de tierras
Marco legal y normativo
World Heritage
Cambio estacional
Usos conflictivos / impactos acumulativos
Falta de oportunidades de ingresos alternativos
Falta de conciencia del público y de los responsables de la toma de decisiones
Deficiente gobernanza y participación
Sustainable development goals
ODS 8 - Trabajo decente y crecimiento económico
ODS 11 - Ciudades y comunidades sostenibles
ODS 13 - Acción por el clima
Aichi targets
Meta 19: Intercambio de información y conocimiento
Meta 20: Movilización de recursos de todas las fuentes


Skellig Michael (Great Skellig), Toghroinn Fhíonáin, Kerry V23, Ireland


  • Environmental challenges: conservation of fragile breeding grounds, sharing benefits with local actors, climate change vulnerability, conserving nature and culture in an integrated manner
  • Social challenges: changes in local communities and local actors, people’s awareness on the Outstanding Universal Value and other values, balancing conservation needs and accessibility
  • Economic challenges: local economic development, the Skelligs and the World Heritage property of Skellig Michael plays a key role for the economy of the Iveragh Peninsula through the provision of tourist services and amenities
  • Heritage-related challenges: accessibility is limited and weather-dependent, the island has a limited carrying capacity, visitors’ behaviour. 


The main beneficiary is the site as the integrated management allows for a more comprehensive understanding and management of the place. Local actors are also beneficiaries though the systems of enhanced participation and consultation.

¿ Cómo interactúan los building blocks en la solución?

The pillar of this solution is the recognition of both cultural and natural value (BB1) as a baseline for the management and conservation of Scelig Michíl, as a World Heritage site and a heritage place. The unique features of the site require for management and conservation to be carried out in a nature-culture integrated manner to ensure the conservation of both the archaeological and built remains, and the biodiversity of the island. This important interconnectedness has strengthened the understanding of Scelig Michíl as a cultural landscape (BB2) for which the conservation of the built heritage requires specific attention to the natural features of the place and vice versa. Lastly, the management of a complex landscape requires a network of cooperation with multiple actors at the national (BB2) and local levels, with particular attention to local communities and stakeholder who have the potential of participating in informed decision-making processes. This process is facilitated through the establishment of a Scelig Michíl Stakeholder Forum (BB3), where representatives from all relevant public and private stakeholders group have the chance to meet and exchange with the site management team and the site management institutions.


Sceilg Michíl is one of the most impressive early-monastic settlements in the world. It location on the remote rocky island of the Great Skellig makes this place even more significant. The management of Skellig Michael requires the comprehensive understanding of the site’s unique cultural and natural value as a cultural landscape, its natural conformation as a lonely rocky island well represent the ideas behind extreme monasticism and the archaeological complex of Sceilg Michíl. The integrated management strategy for the site looks at strengthening the nature-culture connections as baseline for the management and conservation of the site

The management in place, through constant processes of consultation and discussion with local communities and stakeholders as the place represents a change for local development and sustains the livelihoods of many living on the Iveragh peninsula.

Contribuido por

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Fergus McCormick Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí - Office of Public Works

Other contributors

ICCROM-IUCN World Heritage Leadership