Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Green Drinks 5th January - 'Our Grass has always been this Green'

This month Dublin's Green Drinks heard IWT's Padraic Fogarty talking about how agriculture has shaped our landscape for centuries, but in its modern form just how environmentally friendly is it? Despite the official image of Ireland promoted by the government in its Origin Green labelling programme, with its slogan that 'our grass has always been this green', a lot of modern agriculture is having a destructive impact on our environment. Farmland biodiversity has been declining for the last three decades, which makes a mockery of the idea that Irish food is sustainably produced.

While Origin Green does monitor carbon emissions, it does nothing to stop the pollution of our watercourses from farm run-off, the decline in farmland birds, the needless culling of badgers, or the degradation of our uplands. For example, pollution of our rivers from silage and slurry run-off threatens the survival of species, such as the rare fresh water mussel, and the continuing destruction of our hedgerows is depriving many wildlife species of desperately needed habitat.

Pádraic also talked about what's in store for nature as government plans for ever-increasing production are rolled out, and about the ways we can accommodate the needs of farming and nature conservation. However, it is obvious that at the moment, environmental concerns are not given anything like the weight they should by politicians and civil servants, and conservation agencies remain badly underfunded. Unless things change we are facing a serious biodiversity crisis on this island.

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