All Posts by Padraic Fogarty

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Oct 09

COPs – what are they good for?

COPs – what are they good for? It’s nearly 30 years since world leaders met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Earth Summit. I recently bought a copy of TIME on eBay which anticipated the event with the cover headline ‘Coming Together to Save the Earth’. “What kind of planet will our children inherit? […]

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Sep 26

Rewilding Ireland – where will be first?

Rewilding Ireland – Where Will be First? Rewilding got a little closer to home this week with the announcement that the Affric Highlands in Scotland are to be added to the Rewilding Europe network. It becomes one of only nine landscape-scale projects (the organisation has many more smaller initiatives which include the Dunsany Estate in […]

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Sep 10

IUCN Congress

IUCN World Congress The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a global organisation that has worked for the protection of biodiversity since its founding in 1948. It is probably best known for producing ‘red lists’ of species which are endangered with extinction. Its latest assessment, published last week to coincide with its […]

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Aug 29

New forests please

New forests please Hardly a week goes by without articles appearing in the farming press about the dire state of the forestry industry in Ireland. These articles are repetitive (typically reprints of industry press releases) and bemoan the difficultly in getting licences for routine operations. These rarely, if ever, mention that forestry has been a […]

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Aug 15

Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood Last week I spent some time walking in Norway. Outdoor activity in the country is a national obsession and starts at an early age with their utebarnehage (outdoor kindergardens). Here, children spend much of their week in the forest regardless of the weather. Babies in cots are brought inside for their naps only […]

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Aug 01

Taking the train

Taking the train I first left the country in 1986, at the age of 12. It was a much-anticipated family sun holiday to Mallorca. Until then every holiday had been to the caravan in Wexford. This was perfectly normal at the time, leaving the country was expensive. But my generation was quick to catch up. […]

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Jul 18

Look to the sea

Look to the sea The sea has given us everything. The earliest people lived by, and off, the sea, as have generations that followed. The sea brought us our history, from the Viking and Norman invasions to the Martello towers that were built as look-outs for a Napoleonic invasion. The sea took our hopeful and […]

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Jul 03

A year in government

A year in government The government recently celebrated a year in office. The IWT supported the Programme for Government (PfG) on the basis that – if implemented – it would set us on a course to addressing the biodiversity emergency. Green Party leader and minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, has said that it is the […]

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Jun 19

Expect more Extinction Denial

Expect more Extinction Denial Science denial has a long and inglorious history. In 1615 Galileo Galilei was condemned to house arrest for defending Copernicus’ theory that the earth travelled around the sun and not vice versa. In the 1960s, Rachel Carson, an aquatic biologist working for the US Bureau of Fisheries, came under ferocious attack […]

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Jun 05

The Urgency of Rewilding

The Urgency of Rewilding This week saw two important publications that bring the urgent need for rewilding closer to being accepted at a policy level. While rewilding has gained widespread popular support, policy-makers and even many ecologists have remained sceptical. Part of this has been the lack of a widely accepted definition, accompanied by its […]

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May 22

Climate resilient dairy – an alternative for Irish farmers

While dairy is the most profitable sector in farming in Ireland, it increasingly faces environmental questions. What are the options?  by Oliver Moore There has been strong growth in the dairy sector in Ireland because it is, by a distance, the most profitable sector in Irish farming. Even when overall farm incomes are stable or […]

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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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