From Anne Lucey - Irish Times 15th July

CITIZENS SHOULD perform “acts of conservation” by holidaying at home or cleaning beaches to protect Ireland’s heritage, honorary president of An Taisce Prof John Sweeney has said.

Mr Sweeney was speaking at the announcement that An Taisce is to host the 13th International Conference of National Trusts.

The conference, to be held in Dublin from September 13th-17th, will be attended by more than 300 representatives from heritage trust organisations from around the globe, in addition to climate change experts, conservationists and academics including former president Mary Robinson.

Legislation should be enacted to give non-governmental groups the power to become involved in the protection of the built and natural environment, Mr Sweeney said.

“Right across the globe, An Taisce’s peer organisations benefit from legislation and tax reliefs to enable them to hold property and important sites in trust. This, in turn, allows for greater public participation in the maintenance of these heritage sites,” he said.

Governments needed to do more to protect landscapes and buildings, he said, through laws to encourage building reuse. They should also encourage citizens to play a part.

The conference, Conservation in a Changing Climate, will discuss topics such as the care of historic sites in light of challenges caused by climate change, sustainable tourism and community participation in conservation.