Protecting Uplands and Rural Environments by
Pure Project

Mountain Protection, UIAA
Photo: © Pure Project



Project Status:  

Ian Davis


The Pure Mile is an environmental initiative of The Pure (Protecting Uplands and Rural Environments) Project, which aims to foster a greater appreciation and awareness of our country roadscapes and mountains, by rewarding and acknowledging community and group efforts. The competition encourages communities and groups living in rural areas to adopt a mile stretch of road, or miles of road, and upland areas, The objective is to keep these areas litter free and research information about the local wildflowers, trees, animals, social/cultural heritage, history and folklore. The Pure Mile is the perfect opportunity for communities and groups who want to improve and enhance the areas they live in. A large number of communities go the extra mile by repairing and painting old traditional gates, cleaning up farmlands and entrances, erecting bat and bird boxes, trimming hedges (outside of bird nesting season) and much more. In Miles where very little physical management is required, groups can focus on local research, or, on initiatives to increase awareness and appreciation of the Mile to the wider community. To see a short film on the Pure Mile, and to find out more about the competition, please visit:

The Wicklow/Dublin Uplands is a unique landscape and environment, attracting thousands of visitors annually. This landscape is of environmental significance, and part of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. It’s an area of both Irish and European significance and protected under the European Habitats Directive as a Special Area of Conservation. The amount of litter and illegal dumping that Pure encounter on a daily basis is both disgusting and disheartening. However, the enthusiasm, energy, and commitment, demonstrated by the volunteers involved in the Pure Mile has resulted in the removal of tonnes of illegal dumping and litter from this mountain region. Although Pure remove tonnes of illegal dumping from this beautiful scenic landscape, we only have one truck and one driver, so we cannot remove the unsightly small-scale litter from the area. Please see videos for examples of Pure Project Initiatives.


The Pure Mile is perfect for groups who want to contribute positively to the uplands and involves a number of aspects and awards:

Best Pure Mile (Overall Award) 

Best Clean Up The Uplands 

Best Anti-Dumping Initiative 

Best Litter Free Mile 

Best Community Effort 

Best Education Award 

Best Natural Heritage Mile 

Best Built/Social/Cultural Heritage Mile 

The Anti-Dumping Initiative is for groups and areas that have an illegal dumping problem. Groups collaborate with Pure, and the associated stakeholders in the project, and organise Anti-Dumping Initiatives to reduce frequent illegal dumping in an area. Pure assist all groups in organising their Anti-Dumping Initiative by providing, signage, bags, gloves, litter pickers, and remove any rubbish that the groups collect. We also work with groups in creating public awareness of their Anti-Dumping Initiative and offer support and advice. 

‘The Clean Up The Uplands’ project is ideally suited for all types of special interest groups, e.g., walking groups, cycling groups, scout groups, and many more, who want to contribute positively to the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. Groups can adopt a mile, or miles of road, in the uplands, and arrange a litter pick. As one walking group member stated, ‘our group regularly walk in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands and we were appalled by the amount of litter dumped in the area, which is mainly thrown out of cars. Working with Pure, and by adopting this stretch of road, and doing this clean-up, is our way of keeping the uplands Pure and clean, the way it should be.’ Pure assist all groups in organising their Clean Up The Upland day(s), by providing, signage, bags, gloves, litter pickers and remove any rubbish collected. We also work with groups in creating public awareness of their Anti-Dumping Initiative and offer support and advise. 

To create environmental awareness Pure have created a number of innovative educational awareness programmes including; Pure Primary Schools Teachers’ Pack –

Pure Animation – Creation of environmental animations – Pure Music – Creation of environmental anthems –

Pure Theatre – Creating environmental awareness through theatre –

Pure Wisdom – Let the kids do the talking –


When I initiated and launched the Pure Mile in 2009, the competition attracted six local communities and groups. Over the years I have engaged in a heightened public awareness campaign, including, community consultation, community and group meetings, presentations, schools campaign, special interest groups campaign and meetings, organisation/business campaign and meetings, a regiona and national media campaign, social media campaign, photography and video projects, all of which have incentivised and encouraged hundreds of groups, communities, and organisations to actively participate in the Pure Mile Project. Since the establishment of the competition, the number of groups, areas/miles, and volunteers, has risen annually; 

6 miles in 2010 – 6 groups involved 

11 miles in 2011 – 11 groups involved 

13 miles in 2012 – 13 groups involved 

14 miles in 2013 – 14 groups involved 

24 miles in 2014 – 24 groups involved 

12 miles in 2015 – 12 groups involved 

60 miles in 2016 – 60 groups involved 

150 miles in 2017 – 60 groups involved 

220 miles in 2018 – 70 groups involved 

470 miles in 2019 – 80 groups involved 

The initiative has grown on an annual basis, and with the introduction of the ‘Clean Up The Uplands’ award, a category that encourages special interest groups, for example, walking groups, climbing groups, upland groups, scout groups, cycling groups, businesses and organisations, to adopt upland areas, increased the number of groups to over 80 in the 2019 competition. This year alone there are over 2,000 volunteers involved in the competition, all collectively improving and enhancing over 470 miles of upland roads, mountains, forestries, woodlands, upland amenities, upland car parks, which has resulted in the removal of thousands of bags of rubbish from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, with tonnes of illegal dumping and litter removed from the landscape. 

The Pure Mile encourages communities, groups and organisations, to take ownership of their environment and rediscover the beauty of an area, and since the establishment of the project, hundreds of groups have entered the competition. It is estimated that there are over 2,000 volunteers in the 2019 Pure Mile, with each individual providing 40 hours of volunteer hours with an approximate value of over €800,000. 

The Pure Mile has development into a very important, environmental, conservation, preservation, and community initiative. Communities, groups and organisations involved in the Pure Mile have conducted extensive heritage research projects, documenting information that would have been forgotten, or was almost lost forever, demonstrating both the regional and national significance of the project. A Pure Mile looks totally different than a normal mile of road, and all of the groups involved in the competition hold the project in high regard. 

Due to the success of the Pure Mile, the competition has now become an annual event, receiving considerable amount of public and media attention, covered by both regional and national media. 


I meet with all groups involved in the Pure Mile and organise a site visit, or a Walk The Mile(s) Meeting. The Walk The Mile Meeting is an integral part of the success of the Pure Mile Competition. During the Walk The Mile Meeting, I identify areas of interest, natural heritage features, cultural or social heritage features, possible education projects, emphasising community involvement, and more importantly, provide encouragement, advice and ideas on how to reduce illegal dumping and litter in the area, or, how to improve and enhance an area and provide examples of how to create a successful, beneficial, inclusive Pure Mile Campaign.

During this meeting I also provide all groups with Pure Mile signs, Pure Mile bags, gloves, litter pickers and Pure Mile high-vis vests and the Pure Truck removes any rubbish collected by the groups and communities. The Walk The Mile Meeting provides me with an opportunity to summarise the various categories and components associated with the Pure Mile competition, provide examples of the numerous and varied projects that past Pure Mile groups initiated, the achievements of past groups, campaigns, interpretative plans, and the overall benefits the Pure Mile brings to an area. 

Communities engage in numerous projects, including waste reduction, recycling projects, anti-litter campaigns/projects, anti-dumping campaigns/projects, source information on the natural/built heritage, social and cultural heritage of their Miles. This research is then made available to the wider community on information/interpretative panels, or by creating information leaflets, booklets, websites, blogs, and social media campaigns. See link for an example of a Pure Mile website.

By doing this, groups informed and educated the wider community on their local area, which assists in the preservation and conservation for future generations. To inform others about the area, groups also host information nights, lectures, talks, walks, etc., related to the research collated and involve residents, local children, schools, scout groups and special interest groups, etc.

Over the years the Pure Mile has assisted groups in alleviating illegal dumping, and in a number of cases, eradicated this environmental scourge. 


The Pure Project is a partnership project and the first of its kind in Ireland which incorporates statutory and non-statutory organisations including Wicklow County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council, Coillte, National Parks & Wildlife Service and the Wicklow Uplands Council. Funded by The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Pure was established to combat illegal dumping/fly-tipping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. The project was officially launched in September 2006. 

The concept of the Pure project developed after a number of forums between the above organisations were held over a one-year period, between 2005 and 2006, with the objective of finding a solution to the increase of fly-tipping and small scale illegal dumping activity in the Wicklow/Dublin upland regions, as each of the organisation were affected by the problem. 

The project is funded directly by The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, and is the first statutory and non-statutory regional partnership initiative established in Ireland to deal with incidents of fly-tipping/illegal dumping. 

The Pure project focuses directly on combating illegal dumping/fly-tipping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, and I use a multi-disciplined approach, incorporating a number of enforcement and preventative measures, media/PR campaigns, public awareness campaigns, community projects, and educational initiatives, including 

• Facilitate Public reporting of fly-tipping/illegal dumping through multiple channels – a local phone-line, and directly to Pure office 

• Environmental Effectiveness – development of a unique database to record all complaints, reports and incidents of fly-tipping/illegal dumping 

• A Dedicated clean-up vehicle that responds to all incidents of fly-tipping/illegal dumping 

• GPS/GIS database to record all incidents of fly-tipping/illegal dumping 

• Deployment of Pure covert CCTV in Wicklow/Dublin Uplands – based on data collected by GPS/GIS database 

• Public Awareness – various campaigns to create environmental awareness 

• Multimedia Environmental Exhibitions – e.g., creation of environmental videos showing the negative impact illegal dumping has on our environment and various Pure multimedia projects 

• Website and social media – providing information on all aspects of Pure Website

• Community Initiatives – in 2010 I established The Pure Mile – an environmental project that encourages communities, groups, individuals, walking groups, cycling groups, scout groups, and all members of society to adopt rural roads in the uplands and work together to improve and enhance the environment, community and heritage – over 80 groups and 440 miles of road and uplands areas are adopted in 2019 

• Education Programmes – Over the years I have created a number of educational projects, including, the Pure Primary School Teacher’s Pack and primary school projects, Pure Wisdom, secondary school projects, Pure Animation, Pure Music, and Pure Theatre 

• Media Campaign – An extensive regional and national P.R. and media campaign to create awareness of the effects of illegal dumping 

Pure Project Illegal Dumping Statistics – 2007 to 2018 

• Over 3,300 tonnes of illegal dumping removed from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands 

• Over 11,000 reports of illegal dumping received by Pure  • Over 11,000 Pure Truck Collections 


Combat illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands by utilising a multi-disciplined approach 

Reduce illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands, engage with all demographics, and create environmental awareness 

The Pure Project was officially launched in September 2006 and since then Pure has removed over 3,300 tonnes of illegal dumping from the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. If you were to put all this waste into standard household rubbish bags, you would fill over 400,000 bags. If you lined up each of the bags that Pure has removed from the uplands, they would stretch over 400 kilometres in length, which is longer than a journey from Dublin to Baltimore in County Cork (353 kilometres). 

In the last two years of operations Pure has recorded their lowest amounts of illegal dumping collections in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. 2018 was the lowest amount of dumping that Pure has removed from the Wicklow/Dublin uplands since the project was launched in 2006. In 2018 Pure collected 161.14 tonnes of illegal dumping which was a 63% reduction in dumping compared to ten years before when in 2008 the project removed 436.59 tonnes. 

2018 = 161.14 tonnes 
2008 = 436.59 tonnes 

The project believes that by continuing to utilize a multi-disciplined approach, Pure has been extremely successful in reducing illegal dumping in the targeted area, creating awareness of the illegal dumping issue and the impact it has on our environment, engaging with all demographics of society, and establishing a recognisable brand. 

The project also believes that the Pure Mile, and other Pure Project awareness and educational campaigns, have been a key component in the reduction of illegal dumping in the Wicklow/Dublin Uplands. 

Just Some of What The Pure Mile Groups Do:

• Regular litter picks and clean-ups 
• Anti-dumping campaigns 
• Clean Up The Uplands events 
• Organise events to create awareness of environment litter, dumping, waste, etc. 
• Organise events to create awareness of built/social/cultural heritage 
• Organise events to create awareness of natural heritage 
• Inventory/list of plants and animals present on Mile 
• Installing bird and bat boxes in suitable locations 
• Planting of native trees – trimming and maintaining of hedges, ditches, etc. 
• Inventory/list of built heritage present on Mile – also social/cultural heritage 
• Installing interpretative displays in areas 
• Involvement of the local community, residents, schools and children 
• Researching and recording of cultural & social heritage, history, folklore, field names, etc. 
• Creation of social media sites, websites, blogs, and social media campaigns 
• Publishing local heritage publications, leaflets and booklets 

Benefits of the Pure Mile 

• Improves aesthetic value of uplands, mountains, countryside roadways, woodlands, amenities, viewing points, etc. 
• Identifies ‘black spot’ areas affected by litter/illegal dumping/fly-tipping 
• Encourages special interest groups, walking groups, cycling groups, scouts, businesses, and organisations, to participate in an environmental/sustainable project 
• Encourages communities to take responsibility for their own localities and improve and enhance their areas
• Provides communities with an opportunity to contribute positively to their immediate/local environment 
• Communities rediscovering their areas, take ownership of their areas 
• Brings a community together – also includes children and schools 
• Increases awareness of environment/community/heritage/cultural issues 
• Conservation, preservation of environment 
• Has been catalyst for other projects – e.g., adopt a monument, other environment/heritage projects 
• Promotes positive attributes of a multi-stakeholder project between, groups/communities and various associated organisations, e.g., Department of Environment, Department of Arts, Heritage Council, Local Authority, Coillte, National Parks and Wildlife Service, ESB, etc. 


Media Structure for the Pure Mile – Regional / National 

As the Pure Project/Pure Mile Manager, I am responsible for all aspects of the projects, P.R. and Media Campaign – no external media or P.R companies are contracted or employed. Pure receives a considerable amount of media attention (national and regional) and has featured in all relevant national and regional newspapers on numerous occasions.

Over the years I have created a number of interesting and engaging P.R. and media packages for the project, including, videos, photography, press releases, information packs, EPK, radio and print adverts, multi-media power point presentations, etc. I have also been interviewed on numerous occasions for print media, T.V. and radio, and have a good working relationship with journalists, producers, presenters and researchers. 

Please see below an example of a promotional video for the Pure Mile–

Please see below an example of a promotional slideshows and videos –

Please see below link to Pure Mile Videos and slideshows on Facebook

Print Media 

As the Pure Mile Manager, I regularly provide press releases to the media updating them on the project activities, events and news, with accompanying photographs and videos. I am also regularly contacted by both regional and national journalists who are researching articles on environmental/community issues, or issues relating to illegal dumping and fly-tipping. Examples of press releases/media coverage can be found on the Pure Facebook page –

The Pure Mile and The Pure Project, receive considerable amount of media attention, both national and regional, and the project has featured in all relevant regional newspapers, e.g., Wicklow People, Wicklow News, Wicklow Times, Wicklow Voice, Tallaght Echo, Tallaght Voice, Tallaght News, Southside People, etc., National newspapers include, Irish Times, Irish Independent, The Irish Examiner, The Evening Herald, The Star, The Sun, Sunday World, The Mirror.

Articles on the Pure Mile have also featured in special interest magazines, including, The Irish Mountain Log, Native Woodland Trust, In Wicklow, Wicklow Woman. 


As Pure Mile Manager, I have appeared on a number of national television programmes highlighting illegal dumping issues and the positive aspects of the Pure Mile and how it has reduced illegal dumping in participating areas, e.g., RTE News, RTE Prime Time, TV3, Eco Eye, Ear To The Ground, Irish TV. I work closely with the producers for all Media Broadcasts and am involved in all stages of the production, i.e., development, pre-production and production. This ensures the initiatives established by Pure, for example, Pure Mile, feature prominently in the programme. I also assist media in sourcing suitable locations for filming, permits/permission, and source suitable contributors and interviewees, for example, members of a Pure Mile Group. 

Please see below link for an example of T.V. national broadcast, RTE – Prime Time – Click on Watch Illegal Dumping –


As Pure Mile Manager I have featured on numerous regional and national radio programmes promoting the Pure Mile, and the various Pure Mile initiatives that I have created to increase environmental/community/heritage awareness, for example, Pure Mile, Pure Clean-ups, community clean-ups, Clean Up the Uplands, litter picks, special events, anti-dumping campaigns, and have provided live interviews, to, Newstalk FM, Today FM, RTE, East Coast FM, Dublin Live, Dublin 98FM, Kildare FM, Cork Radio, Clare Radio. 

During all radio interviews I actively promote the Pure Mile initiative, householders’ responsibilities in relation to waste disposal, public awareness of unauthorised waste collectors, the effects of illegal dumping on the environment, on habitats and species, the negative impact on human health, and the negative economic impact it has on the country, such as tourism, while constantly encouraging more groups to get involved in the Pure Mile Initiative, outlining the benefits the Pure Mile Project has on a community.

To discover more about the UIAA Mountain Protection Award please click here.

Please note that the content published in this article is courtesy of the Award nominee. The UIAA has made minor revisions to the original submission.