Local groups that cherish our wetlands get a presidential welcome for their projects
We live at a moment when the president of another country mangles the English language in the early hours of almost every morning, and has displayed ignorant contempt for citizens, scientists and religious leaders who say we need to care better for our planetary home.
So it was particularly uplifting to hear our own President, Michael D. Higgins, speak with eloquence, and intimate personal knowledge, of the vital social and ecological importance of one our most degraded and contested natural habitats, our wetlands.
The occasion was the launch of the Community Wetlands Forum’s first strategic plan, which appropriately took place in a hotel adjacent to Abbeyleix Bog, one of our great and ongoing success stories of local environmental engagement.
Published in The Irish Times on 24th June 2017 Read the full article here
What's in a name? From one perspective, Irish oak woods infested with alien invasives might look like 'novel' ecosystems, but from another we see them for what they are: chronically degraded landscapes in need of restoration (Photo: Paddy Woodworth).
I contributed this article to the June issue of SER News, which I also guest edited:
The world ecological restoration movement finds itself at an unprecedented moment, as we approach our next international SER conference in Brazil.
We are moving into unfamiliar territory, territory that offers bracing opportunities but also poses disturbing threats, both of them on a scale that we could hardly have imagined at the beginning of this century. This new territory is increasingly shaped, both physically and conceptually, by human-generated climate change. And climate change is still accelerating, despite the Paris accord, in a political context shaken by the recent eruptions of right-wing, anti-science populism. The decision this month by President Trump to pull the US out of that accord casts a dark shadow over the fragile hope that Paris offered us.
Nevertheless, a series of major international agreements over the past decade, including the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration on Forests, are a welcome sign that the restoration concept has reached the global policy mainstream. These commitments to ‘restore’ millions of hectares of degraded ecosystems, while not legally binding, are game-changers for the theory and practice of ecological restoration. The new game will bring great challenges, and very real dangers.
Read the full article
Hikers and nature lovers are unhappy about hard-track plans for Irish waterways
“Step out on the grassy way which is the Barrow towpath and you have stepped into another world. You can walk along the river for miles without hearing a car or a lorry. You can’t even hear the sound of your own footsteps. You’ll hear the birds; the rush of the weirs; the wind in the trees. And little by little you’ll let go of your worries because the river has cast its spell.”
Earlier this year, in one of her inimitable radio diaries for Drivetime, on RTÉ Radio 1, Olivia O’Leary expressed her love of a very special landscape – and her dismay at Waterways Ireland’s plans to “improve access” to the Barrow and other rivers (and canals) by building hard-surface, impermeable tracks on the old pathways that give her, and many others, so much balm and pleasure.
“We are all in favour of more walkers and canoeists and cyclists and anglers,” she continued, “but the grassy towpath is the green frame for the river, part of its soft beauty. Why destroy the very beauty we want visitors to see?”
Published in The Irish Times on 10th June 2017 Read the full article here
Articles & Blog
Articles on the environment; Spanish, Catalan and Basque politics; travel; culture; and other subjects; interspersed with personal reflections and images