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Geocaching Ireland • Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers
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Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 7:25 pm
by Croaghan
Over the last week or so there has been contact between myself, a few NI cachers and the Forestry Service Northern Ireland. As it stands FSNI have no definite policy on geocaching on their lands. No policy implies (to them) no permission for placements. Up until now I have been operating on the general policy of "assumed permission" which means I assume that the cache owner has obtained all necessary permissions prior to submitting their cache for review. The only exceptions would be when the area of forestry also appears to be a protected environment such as a Nature Reserve.

Even though FSNI haven't given official permission for caches on their land they are generally aware of most if not all of them and are very much aware of geocaching as an activity. They are just about to begin a process of deciding which recreational activities they will be permitting on their lands in the future. Some activities will be permitted and some will be banned. I'm sure you all agree that we don't want geocaching to fall into the latter category.

To prevent this happening I'm doing two things:

1. I have approached the GAGB who have great experience at negotiating landowner agreements in the UK and NI (eg. Forestry Commission, National Trust, Woodland Trust, etc) and have asked them to carry out the negotiations with FSNI. They have agreed to do so and Dave Edwards (aka The Wombles) will be making contact with FSNI in the next few days.

2. Until the negotiations are complete any cache placements on FSNI properties will need to provide details of who gave permission for the placement. This person should be of sufficient authority within FSNI to give this permission.

Hopefully the negotiations will be successful and we will have a clear process for publishing caches on FSNI property. In the meantime I'm sure you will all join me in wishing Dave every success with the negotiations.

Any caches which have already been published on FSNI property are now in a bit of a grey area. Any of these that have the correct permissions are obviously fine but any that have been placed without I'm not so sure what to do.

For now I won't be doing anything with those caches but cache owners should be aware that FSNI may require that they be removed and that this may be a permanent decision. Hopefully it won't come to this but it is a possibility. For now I suggest that cache owners visit their caches and ensure that they are not in an area that could potentially cause concern for a FSNI manager or are having a negative impact on the area they are located within. If this is the case I would hope that the cache be removed as soon as possible.

I'm very much aware that not all NI cachers are members of this forum or are even aware of its existence so if you are members of any other forums or know anyone that doesn't come here I would very much appreciate it if you could let them know of what is happening, especially if they have caches on FSNI land.

If anyone has any concerns about any caches (ones they own or otherwise) then feel free to contact me either by PM here or by email via my profile on GC.com

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:05 pm
by wildfowler
Are GAGB any further on with this?

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:14 pm
by dodgerm
I contacted a Forestry Service Receation manager several months ago about placing a cache in a forest in Co Down. He fully understood Geocaching but I was advised that he had no objection in principle but that if I placed the cache anywhere other than directly on a marked footpath I would have to provide (and prove) public liabilty insurance for up to £250,000! In his thinking, if a cacher was drawn to the park specifically to find a cache and got injured, then the Forestry Service would be liable! I even offered to put a disclaimer on the cache posting but to no avail. I understand his point, but surely this is bureaucracy gone mad.

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 2:50 pm
by wildfowler
That sounds like the Forestry service to me! A club I'm in leases the shooting rights to just over 600 hectares of Forestry land near Garva and we had to submit a very detailed management plan and risk assesment before we could even bid for the rights. Also anytime we are present on the ground we are supposed to display warning signs at every entrance into the forest before we can start shooting. Do you know how many entrances there are to a forest of this size? Especially when we don't lease the entire forest which over 1000 hectares in size! It makes life very difficult at times! We are covered for up to £10 million public liabilty insurance though through the club membership. So that takes care of that side of things!

It's a pity about the cache placements too! Think how many you could hide in all the forests in Northern Ireland! :D

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:37 pm
by dino
Negotiations are ongoing but these things by their very nature are time consuming and long-winded :(

The reaction dodgerm experienced is pretty common among all landowners and unfortunately in this day and age is all too justified. I think the trick is getting the landowner to realise that geocaching is just like walking and they don't have a problem with that on their lands. It's no easy trick but the guy doing the negotiating is very, very experienced at this and has had a lot of success in the past [-o<

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:55 pm
by wildfowler
Excellent stuff! I don't envy his task as I said I know how difficult the Forestry Service can be to deal with!

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 8:37 am
by Step_7
Just wondering if there is any progress on this yet? :)

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:27 pm
by jrm-irl
Croaghan wrote:I have approached the GAGB who have great experience at negotiating landowner agreements in the UK and NI (eg. Forestry Commission, National Trust, Woodland Trust, etc) and have asked them to carry out the negotiations with FSNI. They have agreed to do so and Dave Edwards (aka The Wombles) will be making contact with FSNI in the next few days.
[...]
Hopefully the negotiations will be successful and we will have a clear process for publishing caches on FSNI property. In the meantime I'm sure you will all join me in wishing Dave every success with the negotiations.
I don't know how far Dave Edwards and GAGB are progressing, but I wonder if these guys could help?

http://www.countrysiderecreation.com/

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 10:03 pm
by dino
Step_7 wrote:Just wondering if there is any progress on this yet? :)
Nothing to update as yet....as before these things can take a long time and always at the pace of the landowner :(

In the meantime if you get permission from your local ranger/manager then I'm happy to publish so long as you have the name and contact details in a Reviewer Note. If they mention Head Office or liability insurance then simply back off and find another location.
JRM-IRL wrote:I don't know how far Dave Edwards and GAGB are progressing, but I wonder if these guys could help?

http://www.countrysiderecreation.com/
Thanks Caroline....I'll pass it on.

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 1:59 pm
by Zoe andDaddy
Is there any news on an agreement with the Forestry Service Northern Ireland.
Maybe we could plan a CITO event in one of their forests to show them what its all about and build some bridges.
I would happily arrange this.

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 3:30 pm
by dino
No news unfortunately. Negotiations seem to have stalled.

I'll email Dave and see if he has been speaking to them recently.

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:17 pm
by parkmoy
It's been 9 months now and we still haven't had an update on this. I know these things can be protracted but I feel we need to push a bit more on this. How long can it take to get a yeah or nay?

Just what is the current position?

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 6:31 am
by dino
Negotiations have stalled. Unfortunately we are at the "maybe" stage which is leaning towards "No".

I understand that this may be frustrating for folks but the feeling is that if we push now that will become an outright ban which is not what we want. There are other negotiations going on in the background with another major landowner that may help so we've decided to back off in the meantime to let that one get through first and then revisit the situation.

In the interim I won't be publishing any new caches in FSNI forests without details of who gave permission. It is up to the cache owner to discuss this with their local forest manager. There will be varying levels of success with this depending on whether they contact HO or take the responsibility themselves to make the decision.

I'm sorry that isn't more positive but it's where we're at for now :(

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 7:36 am
by Zoe andDaddy
Thanks for the update.
I don't understand their problem, they allow cars and mountain bikes to go racing through the forest but have issues with us hiding and seeking plastic tubs?

They want people to visit their forests and we want to bring people in. I am struggling to understand why they keep saying no.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that they will wake up and smell the coffee soon.

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 12:46 pm
by dino
Insurance, public liability and a fear of the unknown :(

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 1:50 pm
by parkmoy
Thanks for that Niall and sorry for the impatience :-#

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 4:26 pm
by dino
parkmoy wrote:Thanks for that Niall and sorry for the impatience :-#
No need for an apology. I can understand your frustration especially if you have a site in mind. Dave, who has been negotiating on our behalf, says that some of his agreements took a couple of years to get the correct result!

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:06 pm
by bigstevie1275
couple of years jez .. like many i dont understand what the problem is its only plastic tubs they are maintained and looked after its not gonna have a rush of people going to it on a daily basis ... but also understand that we live in a claim world and they dont want to be the fal guys hopefully itll al go smoth and they we could offer a CITO event as a thank you

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 8:42 am
by dodgerm
I see that a cache has been recently published in Castlewellan Forest Park. This is the same park that raised the issues of pulic liability with me. Does anyone know if their rules have changed or is it to do with the cache location? There was some comment to me when I was looking for permission that if the cache was directly on a marked path then it was probably OK.

Re: Urgent Notice for all Northern Ireland Cachers

Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:17 am
by dino
If this is one of the recently published CAGE series then there are two caches close to the forest but are outside the forest boundaries so no permission from FSNI required.