All Posts by Padraic Fogarty

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May 08

No budging the agri-debate

No budging the agri-debate It is rather depressing to see just how little the debate on agriculture and eco-action has progressed in recent years. The voices of the farming community, typically the leaders of farming organisations, the farming media and a cohort of rural politicians are sticking with their arguments on carbon leakage (if we […]

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Apr 24

Ireland’s Agri-Food Strategy 2030

Ireland’s Agri-Food Strategy 2030 In 2015 Ireland published its last agri-food strategy. ‘FoodWise 2025: A vision for growth’ was unabashed in its ambition. “It represents the shared voice of an industry striving to create a business and regulatory environment in which the extensive growth opportunities of the next 10 years can be fully capitalised on.” […]

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Apr 10

Marine Protected Areas… but where?

Marine Protected Areas, but where? It’s all happening at sea. This week the ESB announced that the coal-fired power plant at Moneypoint, on the west coast of Co. Clare, would be repurposed as a renewables hub to service floating off-shore wind turbines and the production of hydrogen fuel. In an interview in the Irish Times […]

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Mar 27

Seaspiracy and saying no to seafood

Seaspiracy and saying no to seafood I remember, over a decade ago, kick starting the Irish Wildlife Trust campaign to end overfishing which was, in turn, part of a wider campaign called OCEAN2012. This was in advance of the reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and I was trying to get my head […]

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Mar 26

Chapter 9: Bear Country

Chapter 9: Bear Country “Do you remember, one day down in the glen you found a poor little wolf in great agony and like to die, because a sharp thorn had pierced his side? And you gently extracted the thorn and gave him a drink, and went on your way leaving him in peace and […]

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Mar 19

Chapter 8: the Shannon Wilderness Park

Chapter 8: The Shannon Wilderness Park “On the chilly lakelet, in that pleasant gloaming, See the sad swans sailing: they shall have no rest: Never a voice to greet them save the bittern’s booming Where the ghostly swallows sway against the West” From The Children of Lir by Katharine Tynan (1898)   “We can truly […]

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Mar 13

The senseless logic of burning land

The senseless logic of burning land Let’s say for a moment that I’m a farmer in the uplands and I want to clear land for my grazing animals. I’ve been told by all the farmer organisations that fire is a perfectly acceptable tool for the task and I may even have heard that it’s beneficial […]

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Mar 12

Chapter 7: Pearl Valleys Farmland

Chapter 7: Pearl Valleys Farmland And precious their tears as that rain from the sky Which turns into pearls as it falls in the sea Thomas Moore (Irish poet 1779-1852)   The water was slightly murky but as the swirling vortex slowed I could see the outlines emerge from the bottom of the tank. Even […]

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Mar 05

Chapter 6: the Ulster Shark Coast

Chapter 6: The Ulster Shark Coast Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived with his granny at Easkey. He always went down to feed the fish at the pier. He stole bread from his old grandmother for which she used to beat him, but still he did steal the bread and […]

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Feb 28

Our tortured relationship with trees

Our tortured relationship with trees If there’s one thing that unites nearly everyone in Ireland it’s that we’re all in agreement that the current attitude to trees is pitiful. Whether you’re an urbanite watching your street trees being torn down or a worker in a sawmill watching your supplies of timber dry up there is […]

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Feb 26

Chapter 5: Natural Capital

Natural Capital … as he waded slowly up its course, he wondered at the endless drift of seaweed. Emerald and black and russet and olive, it moved beneath the current, swaying and turning. The water of the rivulet was dark with endless drift and mirrored the high-drifting clouds. The clouds were drifting above him silently […]

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Feb 19

Episode 4: The Wild Atlantic Rainforest

Episode 4. The Wild Atlantic Rainforest   Glen of the scarlet-berried rowan Fruit praised by every flock of birds, For the badgers a sleepy seclusion Quiet in their burrows with their young 14th Century Irish poem   It is no more than a twig the size of a chopstick standing upright in the ground. Only […]

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Feb 14

What Value Nature?

What value Nature? It has long been argued that one of the reasons for our biodiversity crisis is the failure of economics to account for environmental harm. The effects of habitat destruction or pollution from industrial effluent has been dismissed as an ‘externality’ as though the air we breath and the water we drink is […]

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Feb 12

Episode 3: Restoring Connections

  Shaping New Mountains Chapter 3: Restoring Connections   I am the wind which breathes upon the sea, I am the wave of the ocean, I am the murmur of the billows, I am the ox of the seven combats, I am the vulture upon the rocks, I am the beam of the sun, I […]

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Feb 05

Chapter 2: The Heart of the Matter

Shaping New Mountains: Chapter 2 The Heart of the Matter   “What is your trouble?” the gentle queen asked. “During a year”, Conn replied, “there has been neither corn nor milk in Ireland. The land is parched, the trees are withered, the birds do not sing in Ireland, and the bees do not make honey.” […]

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Jan 30

The War on Rivers

The War on Rivers “In recent years land drainage policy has received attention on two counts: the adequacy of the financial returns to investment of public funds in drainage has been questioned, and it has been alleged that adverse impacts on the environment also result therefrom”. It might have been written yesterday but these lines […]

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Jan 29

Chapter 1: The End

Part 1 Episode 1: In the End   The beauty of the world hath made me sad, This beauty that will pass; ‘The Wayfarer’ by Padraic Pearse Imagine if all the birds vanished from Ireland. Picture for a moment your daily routine, except with no bird song, no seagulls rummaging around the bins, no rooks […]

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Jan 24

Shaping New Mountains

Shaping New Mountains In 2017 I wrote a book called Whittled Away: Ireland’s Vanishing Nature. One of the reasons I wrote the book was because I didn’t feel that people realised the true extent of the damage that has been inflicted, and continues to be inflicted, to nature in our country. It painted a fairly […]

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Jan 02

What to expect for 2021

What to expect for 2021 2020 had been billed as a ‘super year’ for climate and biodiversity issues and, in a way, it was, but not like anyone could have imagined. Major conferences on climate, oceans and a ‘new deal for nature’ were all postponed due to Covid-19. A major, but under-reported, report from July […]

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Dec 18

The Case for Beavers in Ireland

The Case for Beavers in Ireland I have been agog these last few years watching in envy as beavers have popped up across Britain. Having gone extinct in the 1600’s these famously industrious rodents are now back to work at Knapdale Forest in Scotland as well as ten sites in England in which they are […]

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Dec 05

What’s the point of industrial fishing?

What’s the point of industrial fishing? The prominence of Brexit in the media was eclipsed this year by the Covid-19 health emergency but it has re-emerged in recent weeks due to the failure of the EU and UK to negotiate a future trading agreement. One of the sticking points has been fishing, an area that […]

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Nov 21

Reform of the NPWS is urgent

Reform of the NPWS is urgent “We desperately need new thinking, new concepts, new contexts, new teaching methods, new curricula, better communication between all the participants in nature conservation. If we had a new and vitalised education programme, half the battle would already be won.” David Cabot, then a scientist for An Foras Forbhatha (and […]

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Nov 07

Rewilding the Park

Rewilding the Park There’s a corner of the Phoenix Park, Dublin’s largest open space, that hints at wildness. It’s different from the rest of the Park in that it’s less manicured, messy looking, with unmown meadows and patches of scrubby thorn bushes. Most people walk right past it but within its tangled undergrowth there are […]

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Oct 24

Corrosive power relations, not farmers, are killing the planet

Corrosive power relations, not farmers, are killing the planet Feeding the world while bringing food systems back within nature’s limits is the challenge of the century. But farmers are mostly low wage workers and worry that greater environmental expectations will mean a further squeeze on their income.  Is it possible for them to be green […]

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Oct 10

Nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions This week saw a significant milestone in Ireland’s tortuous journey from climate laggard to climate leader with the publication of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill. It is a significant achievement for the Green Party in particular, which delivered on its promise to deliver the bill within the first 100 […]

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Sep 26

The left is right

The left is right The emergence of a ‘left-green’ conversation in Ireland seems to have gone unnoticed in the mainstream media. Its most notable figures inside the Oireachtas are Neasa Hourigan, Green Party TD for Dublin Central, Bríd Smith in People Before Profit, Alice-Mary Higgins (Ind) and Lynn Boylan of Sinn Féin. The Social Democrats, […]

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Sep 12

Don’t ask me to be optimistic

Don’t ask me to be optimistic As far as apocalyptic weeks go, the one just gone has been impressive. The week started with the publication of a study showing that the rate at which ice sheets in the polar regions are melting is tracking the worst case scenarios which had been predicted in the 5th […]

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Aug 29

Pádraic’s Blog: The Hardest Animal to Live With

Pádraic’s Blog: The Hardest Animal to Live With Bringing wolves back to Ireland has many supporters but for many it is all just a stretch too far. The conflict would be fierce and fraught, at least if current attitudes to nature are anything to go by. Can’t we just manage what we have? Why would […]

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Aug 14

Pádraic’s Blog: In search of the real

In search of the real A couple of years back I attended a conference on ‘Natural Capital’ in the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Natural Capital is a way of bringing nature into national economic accounting structures in order to value what are termed ‘ecosystem services’ – i.e. the things that keep us alive like […]

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