June 2014 Newsletter
Swift Box Workshop
During the annual St Anne’s Park Rose Festival, we will also be providing a Swift Box Workshop for the public. At this event we will have our own marquee where hopefully a presentation about the work of the Dublin Swift Conservation Group can be delivered. This will be on Saturday and Sunday the 19th-20th of July, in St. Anne's Park.
An Taisce & Kilkenny County Council announce points of agreement and points of disagreement
In continuation of the professional dialogue that took place in Kilkenny last week, An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland, and Kilkenny County Council agreed today agreed the following points at a meeting:
- The County Council will retain the Renaissance gable wall at No. 22 Vicar St.
- An independent report will be undertaken to ensure no compression can take place under any future road. Furthermore, no services (e.g. piping, ducting) will in future years be placed into the undisturbed archaeological layers under the proposed road.
- Excavations will continue south of the gable of No. 22 Vicar St with discussions to continue in a colloquial approach after the dig is complete.
- As Kilkenny County Council takes possession of the Diageo site, there will be more extensive excavations to interpret the Renaissance house at Vicar St and determine its full extent.
- Further discussions will continue regarding archaeology and a colloquial approach will also be adopted for St Francis Abbey on the Diageo site.
- Both An Taisce and Kilkenny County Council agreed that the format of the colloquium approach is a positive public policy instrument for policy formulation, project development and project management.
- An Taisce and Kilkenny County Council will continue working together on the An Taisce Green Schools programme, and explore additional options to increase walking, cycling and bus travel to school.
- An Taisce and Kilkenny County Council will also work together on carbon footprinting on the Diageo site as well as sharing experiences on low-energy lighting.
Returning to the archaeological investigations currently underway, Kilkenny County Council and An Taisce will meet again when new reports are available to continue the dialogue.
Kilkenny County Council maintains the view that the proposed bridge should be constructed. An Taisce does not agree with the proposed river crossing as it is currently planned. Both parties agreed to respect each other differences on this point.
For further information, please call:
James Nix, Policy Director, An Taisce Tel: +353 86 8394129 Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications Chair, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
Overwhelming case to confirm National Monument at Vicar St – An Taisce
An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland, has presented a compelling historical and archaeological report to Minister for Heritage, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, asking him to confirm a National Monument at Vicar St, Kilkenny, and to issue a formal declaration under national monuments legislation.
Archaeological experts studying the recently exposed structural remains at 22 Vicar Street have documented a cut-stone window and a chimney dating to the late 1500s / early 1600s akin to those in Kilkenny’s well-known Rothe house. The experts, John Bradley and Cóilín Ó Drisceoil, have set out the justification for designation as a National Monument in a detailed 22 page report submitted today to the Minister.
The Renaissance period extended from the 14th century to the 17th century and Renaissance is an apt term to describe the new discovery at Vicar Street; Late Medieval could also be used. “Structural remains dating to this period are rare in Ireland and unquestionably worthy of being declared National Monuments and being preserved where they stand”, said Mark Clinton of An Taisce; “we have so few late 1500 / early 1600s structures the discovery at Vicar St is of national importance”.
“Thankfully after constructive dialogue between An Taisce and Kilkenny County Council the Renaissance / Late Medieval gable wall will now be retained”.
“An Taisce is now asking the Minister to confirm the presence of a National Monument: official designation is the right course to ensure protection for future generations”, noted Dr Clinton.
"It is of paramount importance to protect the ecclesiastical precincts of our ancient cathedrals. Similar historical ecclesiastical precincts, or closes, similar to that partially survives around St. Canice's are automatically afforded legislative protection across the Continent”, according to Dr Mark Clinton, adding that “such automatic legal protection is long overdue in Ireland and has been promised here for many years”.
“Fortunately, Minister Deenihan can, and we hope, will, provide that protection by means of a declaration.
It is also important to emphasise that pottery recovered during the recent archaeological excavations at Vicar Street included examples of an even earlier vintage. Leinster Cooking Ware, for example, dates to mid 12th/14th century. There is every likelihood, therefore, that very important objects and / or structural remains lie buried beneath the foundations of Nos. 20 - 22 Vicar Street.
For further information, please call:
James Nix, Policy Director, An Taisce Tel: +353 86 8394129 Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications Chair, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
An Taisce Green Home: A tool to guide behaviour change through our ‘Perfect Storm’?
**By Dorothy Stewart, Green Home
At 7.3billion in 2014, the worlds’ population increased fourfold in the last century. In the same time our use of freshwater increased nine-fold, our climate emissions rose seventeen-fold and our overfishing of the seas grew by a multiple of 35. We can live well as 10 billion people on this earth, but not if we do so while using the resources of 30 or 40 billion. In 2012 the former UK Scientific Advisor Sir John Beddington warned of a ‘Perfect Storm’ citing climate change, a growing global population and damaging production and consumption patterns as the key factors driving change. Buenstor and Cordes (2008) state that contemporary economies pose severe and potentially disastrous challenges to the natural environment. In the 250 years since the Industrial Revolution, mankind has emitted half a trillion tonnes of carbon by burning fossil fuels, a process that has caused atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to rise by 40 per cent. We are on track to release another half trillion tonnes in the next few decades, and this would result in a major jump in global temperatures (Sweeny, 2013).
The 21st century is characterised by the need for more resource consciousness, dematerialisation and in the words of Heinberg (2011) a ‘New Normal’ where growth is defined as the need to grow less quantitatively and more qualitatively. As a small open export-led economy Ireland in 2014 is faced with a number of socio-economic, environmental and cultural challenges. A ‘Not-To-Be-Missed’ opportunity now exists for initiatives that harness the capacity of social capital more extensively to facilitate Ireland’s transition to a more sustainable future.
The An Taisce Green Home programme, an action based environmental education programme represents a fundamental element in delivering this vision. The programme promotes and facilitates positive sustainable action within the home and the wider community. Through awareness raising and the provision of advice, practical tips and activity based challenges on the themes of waste, energy, water and transport the An Taisce Green Home Programme empowers individuals to take action in their own homes. By carrying out these actions, participants can reduce daily waste production, use energy and water more prudently and learn about sustainable transport options. The Green Home programme is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the National Waste Prevention Programme.
The EPA emphasises a number of deadlines which Ireland has to meet in the coming decade, to include: inter alia, EU National Emissions Ceiling Directive, the Water Framework Directive and the Landfill Directive (EPA, 2006). Ireland’s 2012 State of the Environment Report stresses that likely future developments across all sectors of the economy in Ireland will place pressure on environmental quality over the next two decades (EPA, 2012). Allied to this are Irelands commitments under the Energy Efficiency Directive entered into force on 4 December 2012. This Directive establishes a common framework of measures for the promotion of energy efficiency within the Union in order to ensure the achievement of the Union’s 2020 20 % headline target on energy efficiency and to pave the way for further energy efficiency improvements beyond that date. Most of the Energy Efficiency Directive provisions will have to be implemented by the Member States by 5 June 2014.
Waste generation and resource use in Ireland remain at unsustainably high levels. A European Environment Agency (EEA) analysis of nine EU Member States found that the majority of key environmental pressures caused by total national consumption can be allocated to eating and drinking, housing and infrastructure, and mobility (EEA, 2010). These contributed approximately two-thirds of the consumption-related material use, greenhouse gas emissions and other air polluting emissions.
The rationale for the development of the Green Home Programme is directly linked to the success of the An Taisce Green Schools initiative in Ireland. Green-Schools/Eco Schools was developed in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education on the basis of the need for involving young people in finding solutions to environmental and sustainable development challenges at the local level, as identified at the UN Conference on Environment and Development of 1992. Green Schools, an international environmental education programme, environmental management system and award scheme promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment. Over 90% (3,200 schools) of all schools in Ireland are currently participating in the Green-Schools programme.
There are two interrelated strands to the Green Home Programme: the Revision Strand and the Outreach Strand. Green Home, schools revise previous Green-Schools themes that the school has been awarded a flag for, to include waste, energy, water and for some schools, transport. The Revision Strand is particularly useful for newer pupils to the school who will hear afresh the core messages of the Green-Schools programme. Revision of previous work completed on the different themes also helps to reinforce the Green Home message and introduces the participants old and new to up to date knowledge and information on the individual themes.
The Outreach Strand of the programme actively encourages pupils’ families to review energy and water usage in the home alongside their waste generation and their current modes of transport. This is done through surveys (hardcopy/online) that provide the household with baseline data scores on the themes of waste, energy, water and transport. The participants take part in simple homework challenges/activities, to include: ‘Slim Your Bin’ waste reduction challenge; ‘Energy Vampire’ energy reduction challenge; ‘Water Wise’ water conservation challenge and ‘Travel Green from Home to School’ sustainable travel challenge. Householders are encouraged, to avail of the Green Home website www.greenhome.ie as a source of information on how to participate in the programme and as a resource to provide up to date information on environmental issues. The website also contains a series of Action Plans on the four themes of Waste, Energy, Water and Transport that once adopted deliver immediate benefits for the householder. This represents a strength of the programme as a means to initiate behavioural change as participants immediately discover ways to save money on their household bills and have the added ‘feel good factor’ of knowing that their actions have a positive impact on the environment.
To date, 108 primary schools with approximately 30,000 associated households throughout Ireland have participated on the Green Home programme. There are 7,200 thousand online members and this includes 200 Tidy Towns groups. The Green Home programme team are currently working with schools, community groups and businesses in several counties throughout Ireland. The Green Home programme was designated as a 'Preferred Action' in 2012 under the ‘Sustainable Waste and Resource Management’ element of the National Tidy Towns competition. The programme was also awarded a diploma from the European Commission in 2012 for the ‘Green Home Harvest Project’ under the European Week for Waste Reduction. A Green Home school was awarded the accolade of Green-School/College award in the 2013 National Green Awards. By its nature and design, the Green Home programme is broad in its scope and appeal and this is evident in the diversity of the programme participants from schools, community groups, businesses, banks and 2013 Rose of Tralee contestants. Finding ways to save money by making small changes in behaviour is an attractive prospect and most especially during recent times of economic austerity.
Behaviour change is at the heart of the Green Home programme. There is growing research and debate about models of behavioural change with considerable attention now focused on understanding theories and models of behaviour change within groups, organisations and whole communities in transition toward a more sustainable society. Participation and involvement in groups and social networks can have positive outcomes for both the individual and the community in general. The positive outcomes that accrue from this interaction are generally termed social capital (Osés-Erasoy & Viladrich-Grau, 2007). A strong civil society is dependent on the existence of an abundance of social capital. This in turn forms a corner stone of a modern liberal democracy (Fukuyama, 1999). Social capital is not something that can be taken for granted but instead must be constructed through deliberate actions that foster social bonds that can be tapped into as a source of other benefits (Portes, 1998). The Green Home programme presents an excellent opportunity to foster, develop and renew such social bonds contributing to the social capital that is essential in a functioning democracy (Fukuyama, 1999; Putnam, 2000). Social capital in tandem with human, physical and natural capital represents the types of interdependent capital that drive social and economic progress.
Social capital is advanced through the process of self efficacy. Self efficacy is seen by Bandura (1986) as perhaps the single most important factor in promoting changes in behaviour. The Green Home Programme is designed to build upon participant’s confidence in their ability to take action and persist in action. Self-efficacy can be increased in a number of ways, among them by providing clear instructions, providing the opportunity for skill development or training and modelling the designed behaviour. To be effective, models must evoke trust, admiration, and respect from the observer; models must not, however, appear to represent a level of behaviour that the observer is unable to visualise. All Green Home activities are achievable and this increases the chance of success in implementation. Green Home participants are rewarded for the activities that they participate in on the programme. This measure is deemed as being extremely important to maintain the behavioural change in the medium to long–term horizon.
The Green Home programme is an effective and innovative tool to increase social engagement as a means to bring about a change in attitude. Allied to this is the insight that the programme delivers on behaviour change within the context of the value/action, attitude/behaviour gap. Social engagement also enables a greater understanding of the concept of sustainable development and how this relates to everyday living in Ireland in a resource conscious 21st Century.
Based on Green Home research findings, an estimated potential saving of around €320 per annum is possible for households that fully engage with the Green Home programme. Research has found that one third of the food we buy gets thrown away with a potential cost of up to €1,000 per household. This figure when added to potential Green Home savings represents potential savings for Green Home participants of up to €1,320.
Notwithstanding the success that has accrued in the area of behaviour change for sustainable development there continues to be a ‘Value-Action/Attitude-Behaviour’ gap. Trinity College Dublin Consensus Research Project on sustainable consumptions patterns found that although 73 per cent of Irish respondents stated that they would be willing to install insulation in their homes for environmental reasons, only 23 per cent of respondents had actually done so in the past five years (Lavelle et al. 2012, cited in NESC, 2012).
During the latter half of the 20th century, evidence emerged to suggest that human behaviour is often irrational. To address this, economics integrated insights from psychology with economic theory, resulting in a new sub-discipline called ‘behavioural economics’, which implies why decisions may not be rational. Simon (1955 cited in European Commission 2012) introduced the notion of ‘bounded rationality’, which proposes that rational decision-making is often limited by the availability of time, or in some cases, too much choice which leads to procrastination (Swartz, 2004). This ‘paradox’ of choice can be heightened by the complexity of green behaviour, for example, it is difficult for consumers to decide whether non-organically locally-produced food is more sustainable than organic food that has been transported long distances (Soderholm, 2010 cited in European Commission 2012).
King et al., (2009) advocate that people need to know the relative benefits of specific actions and to be convinced of the benefits to themselves and to the environment. Cox et al., (2012: 6 cited in NESC (2012) conclude that ‘a combination of educational activities, changes in organisational policies and investments in infrastructure can foster new organisational values’. It added that ‘addressing individual, social and material factors jointly in a coherent and holistic programme is essential to foster lasting change’.
Green behaviour is the shared responsibility of individual citizens, public authorities and industry (Sonigo et al 2012 cited in European Commission 2012). NESC (2012) cites projects, such as the Green Schools Initiative and others underway in local authorities and in companies as a powerful means of illustrating to people how they might change their behaviour (and reduce emissions and, in many instances, save money). Facilitating behaviour change that sees economy, environment and society in harmony is a core principle of the Green Home programme.
As the programme has grown and evolved new media have become ‘cost effective’ tools to disseminate the Green Home message and to extend the main message of the programme to a wider audience. Facebook, Twitter and Flickr have been used to reach potential new members, to engage with new members and existing members in discussions and debates, and also to keep people informed about Green Home related news and events. New media have undoubtedly expanded the programme’s network of members by creating virtual connections, while also supporting and supplementing the day to day activities of the programme. Heinberg (2011) discusses visibility of initiatives that facilitate the transition to more sustainable living. New media enhances visibility, enables two way communications and provides feedback mechanisms from the wider community that are fundamental to future development of the Green Home programme.
Much debate surrounds new media with empirical evidence supporting both the sceptical and optimistic theories on the social effects of new media (Levinson, 2004). Although there are pros (Norris, 2002) and cons (Putnam, 1995, 2000) associated with new media, it is contended that new media represents a potential factor in facilitating social change and participatory democracy. As suggested by Levinson, new media provides a new conduit for social interaction that can “transform existing traditions, habits and practices of information and communication” (Levinson, 2004: 2).
In conclusion and in the words of An Taisce’s esteemed President Professor John Sweeny in 2013, ‘Our current depressed economic state presents a chance to rebuild in a more sustainable way. We are a small, nimble country that can react quickly, take advantage of opportunities and position ourselves to make sure we’re not a big loser because of climate change. We have the talent and the potential to become leaders in a new, low-carbon industrial revolution’.
The An Taisce Green Home programme represents one tool to guide behaviour change towards more sustainable development by harnessing the capacity of social capital in mitigating socio-economic and environmental challenges and facilitating Ireland’s transition to a more sustainable future and local resilience. Current and future success of the Green Home Programme is entirely dependent upon people working together in partnership and on people’s willingness to give their time and energy to help to make a difference in their community.
Green Home as an action based initiative is an effective and innovative tool to increase social engagement as a means to bring about a change in attitudes. Social engagement also enables a greater understanding of the concept of sustainable development and how this relates to everyday living in Ireland in a resource conscious 21st Century. The application of the An Taisce Green Home programme is independent of economic circumstances and at the heart of the programme are the words of Benjamin Franklin (1750), “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn”.
- Bandura, A, (1986) Social Foundation of Thought and Action. Prentice-Hall,Englewood Cliffs.
- Buenstorf, G., and Cordes, C. (2008) Can sustainable consumption be learned? A model of cultural evolution. Ecological Economics, 67: 646-657.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2012) Ireland's Provisional Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2010. Wexford.
- Environmental Protection Agency (2006) Environment in Focus. Wexford.
- European Commission (2012): Science For Environment Policy, Future Brief: Green Behaviour: Issue 4. Brussels,
- European Environment Agency (2009) Signals 2009: Environmental Issues Facing Europe, Denmark
- Heinberg, R. (2011) The End of Growth: Adapting to our new Economic Reality. New Society Publishers, British Columbia.
- Levinson (2004) New Media and Social Capital - Internet use and Social Capital in six European Countries. Available at: http://busieco.samnet.sdu.dk/politics/nyheder_og_begivenheder/khl.pdf [Last Accessed: 16/02/2012]
- NESC (2012) Social and behavioural aspects of Climate Change, Dublin
- Norris and Pippa (2002) Democratic Phoenix. Reinventing Political Activism. New York: Cambridge University Press.
- Osés-Erasoy and Viladrich-Grau (2007) All that is not given is lost: social capital in the commons. Available at: http://www.grema.udl.cat/projects/2giving070927.pdf [Accessed: 15/02/2012]
- Putnam, R. (1995) “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital” Journal of Democracy 6(1): 65-78.
- Swartz, B. (2004) The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less, Harper Perennial, N.Y.C, U.S
- Sweeney, J (2013) on Independent.ie We ignore Global Warming at our peril: and a huge cost to the economy http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/professor-john-sweeney-we-ignore-global-warming-at-our-peril-and-at-huge-cost-to-economy-29617144.html
Community Gardens in Berlin and Dublin: Who Knows Best?
By Robert Moss, Green Communities, An Taisce Environmental Education Unit.
Article Commissioned by the Goethe Institut Dublin
Community gardens are a recent form of urban growing project. In Ireland they are a 21st century addition to green space infrastructure in towns and cities, and particularly so within Dublin. Here urban administration often lumps them together with the more familiar Allotment Gardening, or Schrebergärten as they are called in Germany. As a rule of thumb allotments tend to be more individually oriented, while community gardens feature more common amenities and are more likely to be controlled by a non-profit group. Community gardens are made by and for members of their local community. They are sustainable because they manage their own resources and maintenance, and they are also very inclusive because they can involve anyone who wants to join in, usually without the need to join a waiting list.
Communal Gardening in North Dublin:
Having volunteered at “Serenity Community Garden” since 2009 I had already gained a good knowledge of community gardening activity across Dublin, and particularly at this North Dublin Community Garden. So I decided to start this article by interviewing Marion Kelly, who is the Chairperson of Serenity Community Garden. The garden was established on public land in Phibsborough back in March 2009. Marion explained that the garden was initiated because this previously unused green space was neglected, and that the land needed to be gardened and cared for. This combined with the fact that few of the local residents had their own garden made the creation of Serenity Community Garden an obvious project for many residents. Serenity Community Garden has been supported by Dublin City Council who along with the Community Foundation for Ireland, and An Taisce Green Communities Programme, have provided funding through project specific grants. The garden does not however have any security of tenure from the local authority and so its long term survival as a community amenity ultimately depends upon the good will of individuals.
Communal Gardening in South Dublin:
Within South Central Dublin, one of the city's first contemporary community gardens was set up in April 2005 on squatted land along the banks of the Grand Canal in Dolphin's Barn. The industrial estate that owns this site evicted the gardeners after a year of hard work had been invested in cultivating the site. That land remains undeveloped to this day. There is often a perception by land owners, and sometimes the surrounding residents, that any change in use, or more accurately non use of a site, could be bad. This attitude can become established if residents have previously suffered a bad experience with anti social behaviour at the site in question, leaving them resisting even positive change, from a fear that any project or initiative will attract more anti social behaviour. The Dolphin's Barn Community Garden finally received the support that it deserved in 2007 when an agreement was reached to convert another derelict site into a new community garden. The newly renamed South Circular Road Community Garden has been up and running successfully since that time, and now provides an important amenity within South Central Dublin for both recreational and educational gardening activities. Gavin Kenny is a volunteer at the South Circular Road Community Garden and he explained that the garden currently receives no funding and is managed and resourced by the good will of its volunteers. There is however assistance through membership of support programmes and networks. Specifically An Taisce Green Communities Programme, and Dublin Community Growers. The Green Communities Programme provides ongoing horticultural and environmental management training on topics helpful to urban growing enthusiasts. These have included composting workshops, plant propagation, and fruit tree pruning. This programme also extends third party public liability insurance to member gardens. Dublin Community Growers is a network of community gardeners who meet monthly within central Dublin. An open group, they meet to discuss community gardening projects, and the issues faced by these projects. Dublin Community Growers also organise events to promote community gardens as amenities to be valued.
Communal Gardening on School Land in Dublin:
Elsewhere in Dublin there are also community gardens sited within the grounds of schools such as Saint Audoens Community Garden on Cook Street, South Central Dublin, sited opposite to the historic city wall. The aims of the garden are to give the children, and their parents, as well as the local community, an opportunity to experience planting and harvesting from raised bed gardens and recycled containers. Garden volunteer Tony Lowth explained that a large part of the garden's funding is acquired by the collection and sale of aluminium cans, as well as the resale of home made compost. All proceeds being used to maintain and expand the garden. This strikes me as an example of a Dublin Community Garden that has the potential to operate on a more self sustaining basis, perhaps as a community based micro business.
Off to Berlin!
So far so good in Dublin. We have seen an increase from two or three community gardens back in 2005 to at least 46 by October 2013. But who has been gardening communally in Berlin, and what is the result? I set off to a cold snowy Berlin in late January 2014 armed only with notebook, camera, and certain preconceptions as to what German style community gardens would be like. These involved vague ideas that they would somehow be better organised and more comprehensively supported by the local administrative bodies. As with all new experiences in life, reality when compared with the preconception often proves to be quite different.
Communal Gardening in Kreuzberg:
The first garden that I visited in Berlin was the Bunte Beete Community Garden in Kreuzberg, Central Berlin. Oliver Ginsberg is one of the founders of this garden and he met up with me to show me around and answer a few questions. Oliver explained that Kreuzberg had been a very poor part of the city from 1945 until only about 5 years ago, and that it has over a 50% population of immigrants. A primary objective of this garden is to allow a positive exchange between people from different national and cultural backgrounds, focussing on the common interest which is organic gardening. Bunte Beete Community Garden is fortunate to have access to a 1200 metre squared site within the grounds of a local school. The city council made school land available to the public 10 years ago in order to help reduce the cost of grounds maintenance. The free use of this site also comes with the use of a pre-existing ground water well, and the school also provides space for storing tools and materials, as well as sanitary facilities for gardeners. However nothing in life is quite this easy, especially in a large city. There are costs incurred by this community garden project. These include the €150 annual insurance for the garden, and Berlin also has rates for water extraction, currently at €2 per cubic metre. In order to acquire both insurance and the contract from the school for using the site, this community gardening group had to become a registered voluntary association, Eingetragener Verein (e. V.) in German, back in 2008. This was necessary in order for the gardening group to be granted access to set up Bunte Beete Community Garden after a further 2 years of negotiations. Initially the garden was set up with EU funds applied for by the school, but now the garden is self funding through its own membership. It later became apparent that Bunte Beete Community Garden actually has a very good deal, as most of Berlin's urban growing projects have to pay to lease land, and in Central Berlin this is not cheap.
Communal Gardening in Köpenick:
My next destination was the Wuhlegarten way out to the south east of Berlin in Köpenick, next to the River Wuhle. Luckily Brigitte Kanacher-Ataya was kind enough to collect me from Kreuzberg and take me through the suburbs of East Berlin to the very well hidden Wuhlegarten. When we arrived we entered a large and sprawling community garden with many installations and amenities including a much appreciated toilet. With the temperature below -10 °C it was a great relief to be welcomed with an open fire, and later Brigitte served everyone hot soup, prepared using some of the produce from this garden. This was the first Interkultureller Garten in Berlin, and was founded in June 2003. Created on an area of 5000 square metres, people from different cultures now grow fruit and vegetables together. The municipal authority owns the land and the Wuhlegarten leases this for about €100 per year. This contract is renewed each year, but future site development is always a worry for the gardeners. The gardeners' main desire would be to have more security of tenure, to know that they will be able to continue with their cultivation beyond the end of every year. Insurance is a significant cost at this site being €800 annually, and the lease requires them to have the trees inspected annually. This can prove to be expensive as with the storms of 2012 when they had to pay tree surgeons €600 per tree to repair damage. The terms of the lease also require that there is no commercial activity, so all of these overheads must be met by the volunteer gardeners themselves. This is done via a membership fee of €5 per month and by charging €10 per plot per month, all from a base of 40 members.
Communal Gardening in Lichtenberg:
The third garden that I visited in Berlin was the Interkultureller Garten in Lichtenberg. I arrived on a cold grey afternoon to meet with Anne Haertel in the eastern suburbs of Berlin. This garden is hidden among huge grey concrete apartment complexes that were built in 1985, and that now house a large and often non-integrated immigrant population. The architecture was particularly grim on a cold snowy January afternoon, but there are large green spaces between the blocks of apartment housing. The green space is enough to comfortably accommodate this community garden, which with its 13,000 square metres is the largest Interkultureller Garten in Berlin. Even in the depths of winter I got a strong sense of being somewhere else entirely. Despite being surrounded in the mid distance by sky blocking walls of apartments, all of my attention was focused upon the myriad of woodland copses, garden plots, bee hives, and communal composting sites that were now snow covered mounds. In summer with the trees in leaf, and added bird song, the transformation must be complete, and you would find yourself no longer within the city. I spoke to Anne within the warmth of the on site community centre over coffee and she explained the strategy of this garden project to me. Anne is the manager of this Sozdia Foundation Project which initiated the garden back in 2006 by getting some of the residents to form a registered voluntary association. There are now 51 plots, 35 occupied by residents and the rest used as common ground. No formal training is provided for the gardeners and instead the garden is run as an experimental field within the community. This serves to get people of different nationalities working together and builds community. Anne explains that it is a strategy not to grow produce in the most productive way, but instead to let the residents find solutions and techniques that work for them. This garden is sited upon land owned by the city which is currently leased for 10 years at €900 per annum. On top of this there are also bills for water, electricity, waste collection, and street cleaning. The garden is charging a membership fee of €15 per member per month in order to meet these costs. Anne also explained that being a member of the Interkulturelle Garten Network helps with the purpose of visibility and attracting new members through the website listing. However it was also mentioned that there is a movement to set up a representational organisation specifically to protect the approximately 90 community gardens across Berlin. This is partly in response to a political aim to develop vacant plots within Berlin which is threatening some gardens.
How to Garden Communally and Pay the Bills!
Finally the Prinzessinnengärten is located within Kreuzberg at Moritzplatz, and it is a garden that I was particularly interested in visiting because of the way that it was organised from its creation in 2009 by Robert Shaw and Marco Clausen. As Marco had stated in his 2012 document; Cultivating a Different City “We were not thinking of self sufficiency in terms of food, but in terms of a steady income.” So how does a community garden sustain not only itself but also its gardeners? The outlook for getting any answer wasn't good when I arrived on Friday the 31st of January 2014 as a sign informed me that the garden was closed until April 2014! Luckily a garden worker unloading a delivery of wooden planks allowed me access to the garden. This football field sized garden is located on one corner of a busy intersection, and there is quite a lot of infrastructure on-site which is cobbled together from recycled materials. While the site is somewhat ramshackle as a whole, it is also functional, and not without its own crude charm. The garden is certainly no more unsightly than the concrete and glass expression of commerce raging on the other side of Prinzessinnengärten's fence. This garden is run as a business … this is to say that it pays for its own way in the world. The gardener that kindly let me in to take photographs explained how Prinzessinnengärten pays its bills, taxes, and provides a livelihood for a number of garden employees through multiple activities. These include on site workshops, and the installation of gardens for schools. A lot of these revenue-generating activities are complementary to one another. For instance garden tours are conducted as a source of income, and often the recipients are schools who may later engage with Prinzessinnengärten on offsite school garden projects.
The lesson for success in moving community urban agriculture onto a self sustainable footing seems to be the operation of as many different but complementary revenue streams as possible. This was the advice offered to me back in 2010, by Hackney City Farm in London. Interestingly Hackney City Farm is a member of the UK Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, which is a cooperative network of great interest in both Germany and Ireland. I was surprised to find out that there is no equivalent to this network in Germany. Both Oliver from the Bunte Beete Community Garden, and Anne from the Interkulturelle Garten Berlin-Lichtenberg, believed that there was a need for such an organisation in Berlin in order to protect and consolidate the progress made by the many separate urban growing projects across this city.
It will be interesting to see how Prinzessinnengärten and other community gardens develop as both business and cultural assets as time passes. Will the business come to dominate, and if so what will be the result? Would we see a café, plant nursery, and garden landscaping business run increasingly along commercial lines, and presenting itself in a more familiar and generic manner? Or will such community gardens be able to consolidate their cultural credentials, and grow support from volunteers and customers alike, simply because they are not generic garden retail businesses?
Robert Moss is a community garden volunteer at the Serenity Community Garden, he is also the Secretary of Dublin Community Growers, and manages An Taisce's Green Communities Programme.
South Circular Road Community Garden: http://southcirculargarden.blogspot.ie/
Dublin Community Growers: http://dublincommunitygrowers.ie/
An Taisce Green Communities Programme: http://www.antaisce.ie/education/Programmes/GreenCommunities.aspx
Interkulturelle und Urbane Gemeinschaftsgärten: http://www.anstiftung-ertomis.de/english
Bunte Beete Community Garden: http://buntebeete.wordpress.com/
Interkultureller Garten Berlin-Lichtenberg: http://www.sozdia.de/Interkultureller-Garten.484.0.html
The back road to Dromineer --Tipperary's lakeside village on the shores of Lough Derg
The back road to Dromineer --Tipperary's lakeside village on the shores of Lough Derg is well worth taking, as captured in this image by Pádraig Ó Flannabhra,from his new book publication 'DeLight in Dromineer', which shows a profusion of Fuchsia and an 'Archway of Welcome' for the traveller, as they journey down to the village.
LMFM Interview with Meath An Taisce about Ellison Awards
Our Chairperson Jean Carr had an interview yesterday with Daire Nelson from LMFM regarding this years Ellison Awards. The interview can be heard by clicking on the link below. We look forward to your nominations and seeing many of you at the picnic at Bracklyn House on June 7th.
National Biodiversity Week at Willow Park School
Our ‘Meet and Eat the Invaders’ Biodiversity Day took place on May 22 nd with Willow Park 4 th Class and their Dean of Studies Killian Boland. The morning began with an introductory power point presentation on Booterstown, the Nature Reserve, general information on invasive species from Giant Hogweed to the Grey squirrel ending with the Japanese Knotweed which is now a scourge now growing beside An Taisce’s Nature Reserve (but not on our property). The pupils asked inquiring and insightful questions. None of them had been to the Reserve but several had passed it. So with their theory work completed the outing to the reserve was taken by our botanist leader Sara Rubulcava. She showed them the different plants, where they grew and the difference between their flowers and leaves. A spider’s nest containing up to a hundred small spiders was of great interest as were the numerous ladybirds, no Harlequins thank goodness. Sara took them to the ever spreading Japanese Knotweed which is growing in stands along the north side of the culvert. She outlined its ability to spread underground and the dangers to our natural flora, not to mention its ability to burst through concrete and foundations. Our information was so clear that one little boy decided to plant some knotweed on the viewing area until spotted by an eagle eyed Veronica Heywood who dispatched the offending alien.
Returning to school we prepared for the great knotweed bake off. Rose Comiskey and I set to issuing instructions on weighting, measuring and mixing the ingredients. Everyone wanted their share of knotweed and dandelion flowers in the muffin mix. The muffin trays were filled and baked. Thirty minutes later back in class the roasting hot trays arrived, waiting impatiently we found one boy declared that he didn’t want one. We made about 36 muffins which when they had cooled were snapped up by the boys. The non participant resolutely refused one until there were only two left, ‘final chance’ he was told and the last one was in his hand! They all declared that the Dandy Knotweed muffins were really good and have lived to tell the tale. What a good use this would be for knotweed and it might even help to eradicate this menace.
My thanks to everyone who helped on the day and especially the boys of 4 th class and Killian Boland, it was a pleasure. We all agreed it was a great experience and something quite of the ordinary school schedule and were invited back again for another event.
Rebecca Jeffares Trees, Environment and Events Committee, Dun Laoghaire Local Association
Food Harvest 2020
Food Harvest 2020 Seminar held at Nenagh under the auspices of North Tipperary An Taisce,heard speakers deliver presentations on the subject.
Pictured at the event were ( LR) Charles Stanley Smith, An Taisce, Dr. Lance O'Brien,Teagasc, Matt. O'Meara, An Taisce, Dr. Oliver Moore, Agri-food Consultant, Jack Mc Carthy, An Taisce , Seán Ó Farrell, An Taisce.
Cairde an Chaisleáin' / Friends of Dromineer Castle
An atmospheric image of Dromineer Castle, on the shores of Lough Derg, Co. Tipperary, by Padraig Ó Flannabhra, from his new book publication 'DeLight in Dromineer',which shows images of this historic lakeside village. Efforts by members of the public together with An Taisce North Tipperary, have formed 'Cairde an Chaisleáin' / Friends of Dromineer Castle ,to help remove Ivy, and conserve the 13th century, lakeside Icon of Dromineer, which dominates the local landscape. Persons wishing to donate towards the conservation of the Castle may do so by forwarding their donation, large or small, to : Charles Stanley Smith, Treasurer, Cairde an Chaisleáin, Dromineer, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary.
Renault and Peugeot-Citroen in front on fuel efficiency & emissions
Immediate Press Release - 27th May 2014
5 out of 7 EU carmakers are on course to meet the EU fuel efficiency target set for 2021. However, BMW pulls up the rear and needs until 2024 to reach the target based on current data
An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland, today [Tue 27 May] highlights the companies making the most efficient cars.
Ireland’s National Trust also draws attention to the carmarkers that are set to meet - and those due to miss - their commitments under EU legislation for emissions and fuel efficiency. The data is drawn from a report by Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based organisation, of which An Taisce is a member.
The two leading companies are European – Renault & Peugeot-Citroen - followed closely by Japanese firm Toyota.
The respective average CO2 emissions per km for the cars made by the top three firms (2013 data) are as follows:
- Renault – 115g
- Peugeot-Citroen – 116g
- Toyota – 117g
However, EU rules are not based on absolute emission values but make allowances for car size and type. Under these rules, five out of seven European carmakers are on track to meet their CO2 targets by the 2021 deadline.
If they continue their pace of progress made in the past six years, Volvo, Toyota, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault, Ford and Daimler will all hit their targets early while VW and Nissan are on schedule.
On the other hand, if they don’t accelerate their current rate of CO2 reduction, Fiat will miss their target by one year (2022) and BMW by three years (2024).
Several Asian carmakers will have to increase their rate of progress to avoid missing their targets by several years: Suzuki (2023); Hyundai and Mazda (2025); Honda (2027). These companies have just announced a collaboration to improve the efficiency of engines by 30% by 2020.
This analysis does not include the fact that carmakers can use flexibilities in the law which make compliance easier, such as ‘supercredits’ for the amount of electric vehicles they will sell in 2021.
The findings contradict claims by the German industry that makers of larger cars needed more time to meet the 95g of CO2/km target. The data clearly shows that the ability of carmarkers to meet fuel efficiency standards depends on company strategies rather than the type and size of cars they produce.
CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency go hand in hand; a carmarker delivering good progress on CO2 will also be doing well on fuel efficiency.
An Taisce Policy Director James Nix said: "Most European carmakers are on course to reach the EU 2021 standards, irrespective of the size and type of vehicle they sell. However, BMW and Fiat need to step up their levels of innovation and investment to meet the targets, as do Asian firms Honda, Hyundai, Mazda and Suzuki”.
The report shows that Renault became the manufacturer of the lowest-carbon, most fuel-efficient vehicles in 2013. Volvo reduced the emissions of its fleet by 8%, the biggest annual reduction recorded last year.
In 2013, all European manufacturers achieved their 2015 targets at least two years ahead of schedule. These achievements contrast with carmakers’ claims at the time the law was being negotiated that, “A vehicle-related target of 130 grams CO2/km, as proposed by the Commission, is not feasible.”
The European Parliament now supports a target range for 2025 of 68-78g/km that the European Commission has a requirement to analyse. In April, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard told the European Parliament it would consult on a 2025 target in May 2014, but this consultation has not yet happened. “The EU Commission needs to start the ball rolling for 2025; inaction will see Europe fall behind”, concluded James Nix.
Cars are responsible for 15% of Europe’s total CO2 emissions and are the single largest source of emissions in the transport sector. The EU’s first obligatory rules on carbon emissions require car manufacturers to limit their average car to a maximum of 130 grams of CO2 per km by 2015, and 95g by 2021.
For further information, please call:
James Nix, Policy Director, An Taisce Tel: +353 86 8394129 Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications Chair, An Taisce Tel: +353 87 2411995
An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland www.antaisce.org
- The T&E report, now in its 9th edition, monitors the annual progress made by vehicle manufacturers to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of new cars, and is available on http://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/T%26E%20Graphic%202014%20Cars%20%26%20CO2%20report.pdf.
- For further information on the report, please contact: Greg Archer, Clean Vehicles Manager, Transport & Environment (T&E) email@example.com P: +32 (0) 490 400 447 M: +44 (0) 7970 371 224
Consultation Submission on the Future of Temple Bar
This consultation is well timed.
It now coincides with the wind up of the discredited Temple Bar Cultural Trust as highlighted in the Irish Independent headline 4th March 2014 ‘Scandal-Hit Temple Bar Trust is Axed’.
In April 2014 the Huffington Post’s inclusion of Dublin’s Temple Bar as one of the ’10 most disappointing’ places in the world for tourists, should be considered a source of national embarrassment.
This comes ten years after the 2004 Guardian report which exposed Temple bar as ’Ibiza on the Liffey’ with the byline ‘Badly behaved binge drinkers led locals to desert Temple Bar’.
Here was an area on which major EU and Irish taxpayer money was spent and tax-relief subsidy granted in developing what was to be a flagship in urban regeneration and cultural quarter.
The development brief for the area was sent out in the completion winning scheme by Group 91 Architects which formed the basis of the Temple Bar Framework Plan 1992.
This combined an integrated vision for:
- conservation of the existing buildings
- new buildings of high contemporary design quality
- a high quality public realm with new public spaces
- cultural centres to form the focal points of the area
- a mix of businesses and arts activities in the area
- a vibrant residential population creating an inner city community
- This vision has been bitterly betrayed.
The presence of cultural venues in the area has become emasculated.
There is a systemic lack of control of uses, alterations to buildings, noise, design control and signage, with the unwelcome increase in international chain franchises.
There is a serious lack of street management particularly in the evenings and at night. Intrusive and inappropriate amplified busking is uncontrolled and the streets around Temple Bar Square have become an open-air pub.
Temple Bar Square which should be the public realm focal point of the area is now a visual shambles.
The western side of Westmoreland Street and Crown Alley is immersed in a sea of tackiness.
There is excessive encroachment of public space for pubs and restaurants.
Fast-food outlets are increasingly demeaning the character of the area.
The main streets are dominated by pubs and noisy music venues, many in a kitsch “Oirish” style like the Quays pub on Temple Bar Square, the Oliver St John Gogarty on Fleet Street and the much photographed Temple Bar pub on the Temple Lane Corner.
The treatment of the Merchants’ Arch, one of the landmark historic buildings of the area, is a travesty. The mid 20th century former Bas Ass Café building which was intelligently refurbished to reflect its industrial modernist aesthetic has been refitted out as a parody of a Victorian pub. The historic use of the original Bewley’s café on Fleet Street, with its late 19th C interior with original marble-topped tables, has been lost.
There has been poor management and maintenance of the original and restored areas of historic street paving.
Apart from a collapse in planning and design control, the area has become noise infested with uncontrolled amplified music. Loud speakers are placed over entrance doors across the area to blare into the surroundings, and noisy buskers or entire bands inflicting their all-too-often poor talent, are becoming an increasing nuisance.
The amenity of the area for its 2000 residents is being increasingly threatened by lack of planning and noise control. This undermines the objectives of the 1992 Framework Plan and the tax-relief supported residential development.
Much of the blame can be extended back to the early 1990s when Temple Bar Properties took a lead role and in developing or extending pubs.
The Temple Bar Cultural Trust is now being axed in a sea of scandal as reported by the Irish Independent on 4th March 2014:
The scandal-hit trust was last year forced to alert Gardai of suspected financial irregularities. Senior managers at Dublin City Council suspect that unlawful loans were paid to staff without the knowledge of the board.
The loans are understood to have been granted in the form of 'salary top-ups', sometimes worth thousands of euro.
It is also believed that there was serious abuse of company credit cards and personal expenses were charged to the company.
In the summer of 2012, details emerged of an external audit report which found that the trust was making late payments on its VAT returns and even allowed a non-management employee to have access to its bank accounts.
The body was also found to be slow in collecting hundreds of thousands of euro owed to it.
The leadership needed in guiding the original vision for the area was not provided by Temple Bar Properties, the Temple Bar Cultural Trust or Dublin City Council.
Much of the responsibility rests with Dublin City Council.
There has been a large-scale lack of enforcement of unauthorized development and breaches of planning permission. Over a number of years An Taisce has made enforcement complaints to the Council which generally remain unresolved. This creates a culture of accelerating non-compliance which is all too visible.
Attached is an illustrated appendix outlining selected examples of planning enforcement failure, which now has such an adverse cumulative impact, and the general deteriorating quality of Temple Bar.
Parallel to this is the large-scale lack of enforcement of environment noise control and mounting frustration by residents which needs to be addressed.
The time has now come for new leadership and new vision from the newly-elected Dublin City Council and recently appointed City Manager.
A review is required on the original objectives which guided the 1992 Framework Plan and major public investment and tax relief subsidy for the area.
The area needs a renewal of its core status as a cultural quarter and a location for cultural activity.
The residential community and indigenous small businesses need protection.
The City Council needs to appoint a task force to apply its regulatory functions to planning and noise enforcement control.
The challenge is now for the Council to take the civic leadership is making Temple Bar an historic city quarter of which Ireland can be proud.
Please download the full .pdf submission for the Appendices with Illustrated Examples.
An Taisce Supporters' Survey
We would like to draw your attention to the An Taisce Supporters' Survey which winged its way through your letterbox this May. As an organisation, it is a fantastic way of connecting with you, our members who sustain and direct our focus as Ireland's longest established environmental charity.
So please, take five minutes when you get the chance to fill it out and pop it in the accompanying Freepost envelope. As a bonus, we will be selecting five members at random who return their surveys before 30th June to receive a hardback copy of "Wildflowers of Ireland- A Personal Record" by Zoe Devlin.
Alternatively, if you would like to participate in the survey online, you can do so by following this link: http://www.antaisce.org/2014survey
Programmes and Administration Officer.
Meath Association June Report
The Association held its AGM on Tuesday 29 th April in the fine surroundings of Slane Castle. Prior to the meeting Alex the Earl of Mount Charles gave a wonderful insight into the proposed whiskey distillery at Slane Castle. He explained that barley grown on the estate would be used for the distillation process along with water from the adjacent Boyne River using eco-friendly processes. He further explained to James Nix the proposed procedures for utilising the spent grain and The Meath Association AGM had a great turnout on the 29 th April in the fine surroundings of Slane by products to generate fuel to help power the stills, provide heat for the castle, along with producing feed and manure for estate’s herds. The distillery will generate many employment opportunities for the village of Slane.
Jean Carr, Chairperson of the Meath Association welcome everyone including John Harnett, James Nix and James Leahy. John Harnett gave an overview of the modern day role of An Taisce and he thanked the Meath Association for the work they do in promoting the national trust and especially their work on the Boyne Navigation with IWAI.
The Ellison Awards were also launched at the AGM. These awards were established in 1990 to commemorate Canon Ellison a founder member of the Meath Association who ministered in Navan in the 1960s and wrote ‘The Waters of the Boyne and Blackwater’. The Ellisons recognise people in the community who demonstrate environmental awareness, and sensitivity to the surrounding landscape when renovating old and new properties. Nominations are now invited for projects from counties Meath and Louth which display merit in terms of environment, restoration, planning and design etc. Landscape improvements and gardens also qualify including recycling and school environmental projects. Nomination forms can be obtained by contacting the co-ordinator Margaret Monaghan at 086 6060770 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The closing date for entries is 30 th June 2014. The Awards ceremony will take place in November at Killeen Castle.
Following the launch our Chairperson had an extensive interview with Daire Nelson on LMFM radio in which she outlined the history and objectives of the local association and the criteria for nominating properties for the Ellison Awards. We also had write ups in the Meath Chronicle and Drogheda Independent. Jean would like members to continue informing us any historical buildings in County Meath and Louth that are falling into dereliction so that they can be included in the ‘Buildings at Risk’ database.
Sean Foley has been nominated as the Meath Association representative to sit on the Meath Local Community Development Committees (LCDC), which will have a key role in the preparation of Local Economic and Community Plans and will have considerable power of control over finances regarding the Leader and Social Inclusion budgets.
Phase 1 of the Boyne Greenway was officially opened on Wednesday 7 th May by Alan Kelly, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Cathaoirleach of Meath County Council Cllr. John V. Farrelly and County Manager Jackie Maguire. Margaret Monaghan attended on behalf of Geoffrey Clarke as the Meath Association representative. This section of Greenway is 1.7 km and connects the Oldbridge Estate to Drogheda town centre. It really is a wonderful amenity and an example of recycling as the walkway decking and fencing is fabricated from recycled plastic. The Boyne Navigation group, having completed the Sealock, are now moving onto the Guard Lock, near the Horse Bridge at Oldbridge. An Taisce, the Meath Association and Boyne Navigation Branch (BNB) are now involved in a process of consultation with Meath County Council in regard to the second phase of the Greenway from Oldbridge to the Newgrange Interpretive Centre.
For biodiversity month a walk was organised by Sean Foley on May 10 th at Oldbridge. John Ducie despite the numerous showers and unfavourable weather gave a wonderful informative guided tour during which he outlined the various habitats and native and non-native species of the Boyne Navigation. The heritage and history of the area was explained and he pointed out some edible plant species which the group enjoyed tasting. The walk then proceeded along the new Greenway to the Sealock and just as the group arrived at the lock the last paving stone was laid by the BNB of IWAI. John Ducie commented on all the meetings and negotiations the association had over ten years earlier to achieve this milestone, as title, insurance liability, technical expertise etc. all had to be established before work could commence on the navigation and just how much amazing work our volunteer organisation achieves.
The first of Christopher Gray’s social events takes place on Saturday May 17 th at 1 pm with a picnic (self-provided) at Bracklyn House near Delvin, Co. Westmeath. There will be a tour of the house, gardens and family tomb, courtesy of Sean and Mary Murphy. Following this we will visit another graveyard with a remarkable grave and then visit the Lefroy family for tea. Anyone interested in joining us should contact Christopher Gray at 046 9431458 or email Geoffrey Clarke at email@example.com
The Association held its first committee meeting since the AGM and the officers and committee are as follows:
Chairperson: Jean Carr Vice-chairperson: Sean Foley Hon. Secretary: Margaret Monaghan Hon Treasurer: Geoffrey Clarke Members: Brian Taylor, Carola Curran-Methner, Walter Ball
Consultation on the Low Carbon Roadmap for the Built Environment Sector
An Taisce has called on Government to widen the scope of its ‘roadmap’ for the built environment sector. An Taisce’s submission noted the the narrow definition of the “Built Environment“ which is unfairly limited to considering energy use in particular categories of buildings only. The proposed roadmap, under its current scope, will omit land-use and transportation related emissions as a consideration under the built environment.
Spatial planning for land-use and transport plays a key role in helping shape our built environment and securing a transition to a low-carbon environment. It would be remiss of the Department to exclude such a key tenant in any roadmap for the built environment sector. While acknowledging several other roadmaps are currently being prepared by various other government departments, An Taisce stresses that attention must shift to creating holistic roadmaps which encompass all tenants of that sector instead of the current selective approach. Furthermore, the built environment sector needs to be galvinised with other sectors such as transport and energy generation sectors in order to meaningfully minimise vulnerability and provide resilience to the impacts of climate change.
It is not too late for the Department to widen the scope of this roadmap and set out a clear future for de-carbonising the built environment, with clear objectives from initials plans and policies in relation to spatial and strategic planning to the sourcing of materials and delivery and construction of a low carbon future.
Green Campus - Inaugural Intervarsity BioBlitz a great success
The first ever Intervarsity BioBlitz was held on May 1 st and 2 nd this year with 5 campuses competing to record the most species on site in a 24 hour period. NUI Galway was the eventual winner with 581 species recorded. In total almost 2,000 species were recorded on the day with data streaming live from Dublin City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.
The National Biodiversity Data Centre provided training to the Green-Campus Committees and hosted all of the data streaming and compilation. Liam Lysaght, Centre Director, is keen to build stronger links between the Data Centre and third-level institutions to promote greater field skills and biological recording as part of natural sciences courses.’
Keen to take part in the action Cork University Hospital hosted “Skullduggery!” a very special event for the children’s ward where students from UCC brought animal skulls and other artefacts for identification. CUH are also a registered campus on the Green-Campus Programme. “Interaction between campuses and the willingness to share experience and education is central to the Green-Campus message” says Yvonne Ryan, Green-Campus Coordinator and adds that “campuses involved have benefitted enormously: they now have a preliminary species list on site as well as having hosted a lively and fun event bringing together the campus and wider community”. It is anticipated that the Intervarsity BioBlitz will become an annual event.
Greener Homes in Blackrock, Co Louth
Committee members from Blackrock Tidy Towns, Co Louth were presented a plaque by Dr Shane Colgan from the Environmental Protection Agency and Mary Murtagh from Louth Co Co for their participation and completion of the An Taisce Green Home programme at the An Taisce Green-Schools awards in the Helix, Dublin on the 22 nd of May.
An Taisce would like to congratulate Blackrock Tidy Towns members for their commitment to the programme over a two period, for completing householder surveys and for actively engaging in the An Taisce Green Home challenges on the themes of waste, energy, water and transport. The Blackrock participants were invited to provide comments that facilitated feedback on their thoughts and views on the action based Green Home challenges.
For example our Christmas Food Waste Reduction challenge solicited this response from one participant, “Because we were more aware of the waste, even guilty we made a conscious effort to be more accurate in our Christmas shopping, after giving some thought to amount of overspending in food purchases last year (2012). We saved by taking more time to accurately prepare our shopping list. We still over purchased in some areas and have taken note of this in order to be even more accurate in our food shopping next year”.
The Green Home Water Wise challenge explored the concept of ‘Virtual Water’ being the amount of embedded water in all food stuffs, for example 1 kg of beef requires 15,400 litres of water in the entire production process. One participant stated "I was surprised by how much water it takes to produce beef in particular." The participants made great financial savings on their household bills and at the same time had the ‘Feel Good Factor’ of seeing how small behaviour changes can benefit us as individuals and our environment.
The An Taisce Green Home programme team were delighted to work with Blackrock Tidy Towns and believe the participants are wonderful ambassadors to spread the Green Home message into their wider community and beyond, leading by example in their proactive approach, finding ways to save money in the transition to more sustainable lifestyles.
The An Taisce Green Home programme also works with schools and extends the very successful Green-School message beyond the school gates into the wider community. If you as an individual, a local community group or business would like to join the An Taisce Green Home programme and follow in the steps of Blackrock Tidy Towns go to www.greenhome.ie or call our office at 01-4002218.
Recent Developments in Irish Agricultural Policy
May brought a number of developments in the realm of Irish agriculture. Notably Simon Coveney has been lobbying the European community to give agricultural ministers more of a say in decision making with regard to European climate change legislation and the national government have commenced the final period of public consultation for the new Rural Development Programme (RDP).
An Taisce’s agriculture office have been following and engaging with these developments. Indeed, we will be making a submission on the final RDP consultation. The document up for review is lengthy and details the SWOT analysis undertaken by the government over the past year and a half and has informed the RDP in its current form. Of most concern at this stage is the inclusion of the Food Harvest 2020 (FH2020) programme as a key driver much of what the government plans to do in terms of agri-environment schemes. As such, the government are supporting one programme (FH2020) that will damage Ireland’s environment with the profits going to large dairy processors, while the publicly funded RDP will be used to mitigate against the worst impacts of this development. On our initial reading then it seems that the overall logic is in complete opposition to the “polluter pays” principle.
Also on FH2020, Jack McCarthy of An Taisce’s agricultural office gave a presentation on this subject as part of a panel discussion held by the North Tipperary local association on the 10 th of May. The evening included presentations from Dr. Lance O’Brien of Teagasc and Dr. Oliver Moore of Arc2020 with a lively discussion afterwards on the merits and pitfalls of FH2020.
An Taisce have been quite critical of the government’s FH2020 plan. In particular we have expressed concern at the target for a 50% expansion in the volume of milk produced in Ireland. We have, however, also been trying to find alternative solutions that will provide a viable livelihood for farmers while also protecting the environment. The more that we research agro-forestry the more it seems to fulfil both of these needs. If any of our members have encountered solutions, agro-forestry or otherwise, that may present a viable alternative to the expansionist drive of the government we would be very keen to hear about it.
On that note, and given the successful exchange of ideas that occurred in the North Tipperary event on the 10 th of May, we would like to encourage everyone involved with An Taisce to continue to engage with us here at HQ on agricultural issues. It is very valuable to get anecdotal feedback as this can help us to understand the effect policies are having on the ground and will inform the policy recommendations we make to the government. You can contact the agriculture office directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (01) 7077063.
In other news, Jack McCarthy attended a meeting of the European Environmental Bureau Agricultural Working Group in Athens. The meeting focused on the greening of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and attendees developed ideas on how NGOs can still make a positive impact in terms of national implementation of the new CAP. To give a brief update on significant dates then, national governments are required to submit their respective RDPs by the 22 nd of June, their plans for implementing greening by the 1 st of August, and their plans for including non-Natura 2000 grasslands by the 15 th of December. An Taisce will be making recommendations to the government with these dates in mind.
Environmental News for June
Check out some recent environmental news and articles from other organisations...
Greater risk of illness if you drink contaminated water from private wells with up to one third of private wells are contaminated by E.coli says EPA - Environmental Protection Agency 5th June 2014 Click Here
As Ireland goes to the polls, the European Commission has withdrawn two key pieces of environmental policy - they must be replaced - Environmental Pillar 23rd May 2014 - Click Here
Departments of Transport and Agriculture need to face up to climate change and play their part in cutting Ireland's emissions - Environmental Pillar 28th May 2014 - Click Here
Greenhouse gas emissions from Ireland's power generating sector fell in 2013, EPA reports - Environmental Protection Agency 8th May 2014 - Click Here
Mumta Ito proposes a new beginning for environmental law based on extending 'civil rights' to the natural world - The Ecologist 24th April 2014- Click Here
European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register – 2012 data now available - European Environmental Agency 5th June 2014 - Click Here
Invitation to participate in consultation on European Commission's growth and jobs plan - the Europe 2020 strategy - European Comission 19th May 2014 - Click Here
Communications Committee to hear from Minister on Energy Green Paper - Houses of Oireachtas 3rd June 2014 - Click Here
Fisheries money must help protect fisheries - Client Earth 6th May 2014 - Click Here
EU member states back compromise to allow GM crops: diplomats - Reuters 28th May 2014 - Click Here
The May issue of the European Environmental Law Observatory - Client Earth 25th April 2014 - Click Here
EPA projections show that Ireland faces considerable challenges to becoming a low-carbon - Environmental Protection Agency 28th May 2014 - Click Here
Aarhus Convention in Ireland Public Consultation - Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government - Click Here
European Court of Justice confirms illegality of damaging Natura 2000 sites for narrow economic gains - The European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) 16th May 2014 - Click Here
LIFE information Day Tuesday 24 June 2014 - Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government - Click Here
Sustainable Energy Awards 2014 - Sustainable Energy Authorithy of Ireland - Click Here
2014 European Heritage Awards Ceremony in Vienna - Europa Nostra - Click Here