Video of my presentation at NY Botanical Garden Summit on alien invasive plant management goes live today
I gave the keynote address on alien invasive plant management at the very well attended Lower Hudson PRISM Summit on 3 November. You can see a video of the presentation, and the whole summit, here.
In summary, I argued that the poorly conceived 'novel ecosystem' theory has led to the popular notion that 'invasive plants will save nature' (Fred Pearce). This is scientifically false and undermines sound conservation policy; but I also argued that 'removal alone is not enough' , that ecological restoration is the best way to cope with the challenge, and that the new International Standards published by SER provide the best restoration guidance currently available.
There are two particularly troubling aspects to the ongoing crisis in Spain over the status of Catalonia.
The first is the re-emergence of what the Spanish call pensamiento único, or monolithic thinking, throughout the Madrid media. You can hardly find a single voice, with the very honourable exception of Iñaki Gabilondo’s video commentaries in El Pais, that demurs from the sole acceptable political line: the only cause of the crisis is the refusal by ornery Catalans to accept the constitution and the rule of law.
A similar media orthodoxy ruled for many years regarding the Basque conflict. The circumstances today in Catalonia are, mercifully, very different.
But the effect is the same: a blocking of the kind of open discourse that might resolve the conflict. Instead, messy and plural complexities are repeatedly reduced in Madrid to a comforting binary simplicity that Orwell might have appreciated: “Constitution good, Catalan nationalism bad.”
This article appeared in The Irish Times on 20 November, 2017. Read it here.
A native oak woodland in process of restoration -- Ballygannon People's Millennium Forest, Avonmore Valley, Co Wicklow. Photo: Paddy Woodworth
“Forest” may be a rather overblown word for most of our woodlands. Ireland has the sad distinction of being the least forested state in the EU, with only 10 per cent woodland cover. Only one tenth of that lies under diverse native broadleaf trees; the rest is monocultural conifer plantation.
Caoine Cill Cháis, with its haunting lines evoking lost “hazel, holly and berry”, is still sometimes quoted to blame our colonisers as the sole culprits for deforestation. But we have been clearing trees since the Stone Age; and we were still destroying priceless remnants of ancient forests decades after independence.
Happily, public opinion today has a much greater appreciation of the ecological, health and social benefits of native woodlands, and the rich pleasures of walking under varied and seasonally changing woodland canopies.
This article appeared in The Irish Times on 11 November, 2017. Read it here.
Articles & Blog
Articles on the environment; Spanish, Catalan and Basque politics; travel; culture; and other subjects; interspersed with personal reflections and images