Three wildlife species under threat in Ireland — the Atlantic salmon, the curlew, and bees — are, fittingly, subjects of the annual autumn series of talks in Killarney National Park, writes.
Former UCC zoology professor, Tom Cross, who has spent more than a half-century studying the salmon, will give the opening talk this Thursday night (October 4). He has an ample bank of research material from which to draw, not least his own work and his special interest in the interaction between wild salmon and farm escapees.
In the 1960s, there were an estimated eight million salmon in the North Atlantic, but the figure is now believed to be half that. From the moment a salmon is spawned, it is faced with a host of dangers, as it travels far out to sea and also has to go through rivers and lakes, which are polluted and, in some cases, blocked by dams and weirs.
Experts now believe that, due to pressures at sea, only about 5% of juvenile salmon departing our rivers return to spawn, and only about a third of our rivers can now have limited fishing, without reducing the salmon population.
Regarding the curlew, Barry O’Donoghue, who has already drawn up a conservation programme for the Department of Heritage, is a passionate believer in empowering local people, communities, and landowners to bring forward conservation measures.
With a background in farming in the Stack’s Mountains area of north Kerry, he completed a doctorate on the beleaguered hen harrier, a bird that is already the focus of a major conservation programme in the Duhallow area of north-west Cork.
A third of our bee species are threatened with extinction, because we have drastically reduced the amount of food for them and safe nesting sites. We should allow wild flowers and plants to grow, even in our own gardens.
As All-Ireland Pollinator Plan project officer, Juanita Browne, will say in her talk, the plan is about all of us, from farmers to local authorities, to schools, gardeners and businesses, coming together to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive.
People can make more room for nature.
In another talk, Michael Lyne, of Valentia, Co Kerry, will outline a campaign to have a Unesco world heritage communications site on the island, to mark the laying of transatlantic cable, in 1866. The cable connected Europe with America for the first time.
Dr Rory Harrington will explain the integrated, constructed wetlands concept for treating waste water, while Niall Parsons, project architect for the restoration of Killarney House, will talk about that.