Dear members,

I am pleased to announce a new communications project to reach out to and inform you of the ongoing work and ideas of An Taisce staff, officers, members and friends. This has been in gestation during the current Covid-19 crisis as we explored ways to maintain linkages in the organisation and keep each other informed. In my message to members of March 26th I spoke of our desire to:

Ensure that when this crisis eventually recedes that the many elements of sustainable development to which we are committed - protection of ecosystems, natural resources and cultural heritage, climate action, community resilience together with concern for human health and wellbeing will all move centre stage once again.

This is very much the intent of this project - to remind each other of the core values which inspire An Taisce, to record the work that is ongoing and to sketch out the future vision which is well captured in the strapline devised by the former Chair, John Pierce:

Protecting Ireland’s heritage, safeguarding its future.

A small group has been formed to manage and curate this project. It is composed of Phoebe Duvall, the Planning Officer; Sinead Owens, Operations Manager; Eoin Heaney from the Environmental Education Unit and the Hon Secretary, Stuart McCaul. I am particularly pleased that Prof John Sweeney, former president and current Board member, will lead this team and oversee the project. The final title for the project has not been agreed. Maybe members will have suggestions? Initially it was framed as the ‘An Taisce Covid Chronicles’ when it was seen as messages from lockdown. It has now evolved into a more elaborate and hopefully, ongoing stream of communications which will extend well beyond the lifetime of the pandemic and become a regular feature.

It will be largely internet-based using email and uploading to the website. We had thought to wait until the launch of the new website but that is still some weeks away and we will begin on the existing website. I sent out a request for material and was very heartened to receive five drafts in quick succession with others promised in the pipeline. These range from John Sweeney’s overview through Jack O’Sullivan’s observations on the links between climate change and the emergence of viruses to Theresa O’Donohoe’s reflections on community resilience and public participation. Mark Clinton has written on the history of pandemics and Kevin Duff on planning issues. There will also be articles by local associations as well as our Advocacy and Education Unit staff. These articles will be issued in due course in a sequence to be agreed by John and the team.

This initiative builds on many similar communications processes within An Taisce over the years. Charles Stanley-Smith maintained a valuable eZine over a long period and this initiative will emulate that work to some extent. There will be a facility for comment and feedback.

In the process of devising this project I have been reminded of the range and depth of the expertise in our ranks. Also of the passion for the preservation of cultural heritage, the desire to spread ecological knowledge and insight through environmental education and the commitment to ensure the ecosystems which sustain us and other species will be protected.

The communications project will address and highlight all of those issues.

I hope you find it inspiring and it reinforces your conviction as to the essential role which An Taisce has to play into the future.

Best, Phil.

Philip Kearney

Chair, An Taisce - the National Trust for Ireland