In the wake of a worrying report on the state of the Irish environment, an activist group has come up with a novel way for people to pitch in — by "saving a sod" in some of the country's most beautiful areas.
Environmental organisation Green Sod Ireland has asked for people to donate €25 towards preserving and nurturing land and species in areas such as Rosscarbery in Cork, and Connemara in Galway.
From €25, people can help protect a sod of Irish land for one year through Green Sod Ireland's management.
Other sites under Green Sod Ireland's management include Red Bog in Carlow, Ballinrobe in Mayo, Kinnegoe in Donegal, and Arderry in Cavan.
The organisation said contributors who save one sod will receive a digital cert, while those who save more than one sod will receive a hand-made letterpress cert, using recycled coffee cups and printed with ecological ink.
The campaign comes as a major new report on the outlook for the Irish environment predicts peril for some of the country's wildest areas if corrective action is not taken.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report said that nature and habitats are being damaged, with 85% of EU-listed habitats across the country in an unfavourable condition.
Wetland bird species, such as curlew, are under threat as a breeding species, it added.
Measures that need attention up to 2030 include “restoring the precious habitats and water bodies that we have lost”, leaving space for nature as part of a new approach to biodiversity protection, and designating more marine areas as protected, the EPA said.
Green Sod Ireland was established in 2006 in response to what it describes as a "rapid loss of land and biodiversity during the Celtic tiger days".
It is a nationwide land trust with gifted land in its care. To date, it has been gifted in excess of 100 acres by individuals and communities in seven counties.
According to the organisation, its purpose "is to protect and conserve Irish land in perpetuity, for the sake of its indigenous inhabitants - animals, plants, soils, rocks, micro-organisms and the like for their own sake, for present and future generations".
Páirc a’ Tobair in Rosscarbery is an ecology centre gifted to Green Sod Ireland in 2018 by the Sisters of Mercy, Southern Province.
Funds raised help it "develop into an ideal valley woodland, supporting a wide range of plants, birds, mammals and insect species".
Green Sod Ireland was gifted 14 acres at Salrock in Connemara in 2013, by Eileen Coyne, whose grandfather had historically farmed the land.
It contains distinct ecosystems such as wet heath, rocky outcrops and native woodland.
Potential donors can see greensodireland.ie/saveasod for more details.