The Gearagh woodlands in the Upper Lee Valley should be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
That is the view of Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada who was speaking after meeting with UNESCO officials in Paris to make the case for the alluvial forest, the only one of its kind in Europe, to be granted the special protection.
"The Gearagh is a unique and ecologically important area of outstanding natural beauty and diversity,” she said.
“We have a duty to protect this site as part of the natural heritage of Ireland and indeed, of the planet.
“I met with UNESCO officials to discuss the importance of this site and to make the case for it being granted World Heritage Site Status.
“This is only the start of a long process but it is a positive start.
“I will now be seeking to meet with all stakeholders to rally support for this campaign and to take a united, community wide approach to the process.
“As well as being an utterly unique and hauntingly beautiful environment and eco-system, the Gearagh is also tied into our history through legend, song and story.
“It is a pivotal part of our shared environmental and cultural heritage and we have a duty to protect, preserve and promote it for future generations.”