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Archery in Museum of Medieval Treasures, Waterford.

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Deidre decided to be daring

Deidre decided to be daring.

Have a go archery at the Waterford Museum of Medieval Treasures.

Learn - or die

Learn – or die.    I’ve found teaching medieval archery to be a great way to meet people and help develop their self-confidence.

Getting a strainght-line.

Demonstrating ‘Tip – nock – hand – elbow’ to create a straight line to enhance accuracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Darragh bring home the bacon.

Darragh bring home the bacon.

Knuckles and fingers.

Knuckles and fingers.

 

Experience Medieval Archery has been launched within Waterford’s Museum of Treasures. Workshops on medieval crafts and archery. A hands-on active-display where various and changing working-craft areas will be established and the use of longbows (warbows) will be demonstrated and various arrows from bone-head to flint to drop-forged to tempered armour-piercing warheads. After demonstration visitors will be offered the chance to pull a long bow and loose real arrows.And buy bows and accessories.
This will be facilitated by the Museum and supported by various other state bodies. The workshop will also continue to tour medieval (Heritage) days, folk-festivals, schools and corporate events that help senior staff bring focus and fun to their work.
The whole workshop can be easily moved and set up in an open space where a medieval tent will add colour and protection with professional archery netting to provide safety.

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Earth warming – some thoughts

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Signs of a Changing Climate – ‘Science has spoken’

FAQ2.2 figure2

The aims of the IPCC are to assess scientific information relevant to:

  1. Human-induced climate change,
  2. The impacts of human-induced climate change,
  3. Options for adaptation and mitigation.

See: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Intergovernmental+Panel+on+Climate+Change

Some interesting radio shows on science subjects.

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          Some interesting radio shows on science subjects.

 

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Click on:  I have a WHAT?

 

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How do you know you are dreaming.

An interesting discussion on the facts, act, benefit of cognitive-dreaming.

http://www.newstalk.ie/player/podcasts/Futureproof/Highlights_from_Futureproof_with_Jonathan_McCrea/56023/1/how_do_you_know_you_arent_dreaming/cp_2

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I have a what now?!

Show: Futureproof

In this week’s ‘I have a what now’ it’s the ‘Suprachiasmatic nucleus’ which controls circadin rhythms. In partnership with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

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I have what? – coccyx – via the skull.
 
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Leave a lighter footprint: green funeral and burial tips

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Leave a lighter footprint: green funeral and burial tips

Worldwide, more than 50,000,000 people pass away each year. Traditional burial and cremation practices can have significant negative environmental impact, but green funerals and eco-burials are one way to lessen the impact. While death can be a difficult subject, keeping ethical beliefs and environmental convictions in mind while tending to end-of-life arrangements can create a meaningful send-off–not to mention a lower-impact one. After all, if you gotta go, why not go green?

Top Green Funeral Tips

  1. Seek Good Advice
    Not long ago, the idea of green burial was unheard of by most funeral directors, and today, for a variety of practical and emotional reasons, many people still resist the idea. However, there are signs that the industry is awakening to the concept, especially since many people with environmental sympathies wish to leave the world as they have tried to live in it. A growing number of products and services can help them do just that. Key points to think about include: 

     

    • Funeral Director: Ask your funeral director about more sustainable options, or seek out a funeral home that offer green practices (more on this below).
    • Green Burial: Likewise, green burial specialists can help you explore greening your final resting options.
    • Literature on Green Funerals: Read one of the books that can guide you through the process. (See our “Where to Get this Stuff” section below for suggestions.)
  2. State Your Intentions If you are reading this guide with an eye to what happens to your remains when you are gone, it would make sense to talk to your loved ones about it or make arrangements ahead of time. Death can be a difficult process and, unless prompted, those left behind may not think to consider the environment in making arrangements. Even if they do, they may not have a grasp of the best and greenest courses of action to take. 

     

    • Define Your Wishes: Add a clause in your will or create an advanced funeral wishes document that stipulates your green funeral concerns. Consider including a copy of this guide with your instructions.
  3. Cremate Your Remains On the face of it, cremation doesn’t seem like a particularly green idea. Burning anything creates pollution, especially if there are toxic substances present (via embalming, for example), and returning nutrients to the ecosystem via decomposing matter is a core tenet of environmental thinking. That said, modern crematoriums have made significant reductions in emissions. Plus, as many cemeteries, particularly in the U.S., have rules and regulations stipulating the use of concrete vaults, coffins, and other such requirements that use significant resources and space, becoming one with nature isn’t as straightforward and simple (or quick) as it may seem. Cremation, therefore, may make more sense from a green perspective, after all. If it seems like the right choice to you, you can ask the crematorium about what they are doing to reduce emissions. A previous TreeHugger post also discusses more about efficient and green cremation. Another option that has been explored in Sweden involves freezing the body with liquid nitrogen, which breaks the remains down more rapidly. This method has been very controversial.
  4. Bury Your Remains Ultimately, our remains are part of the food chain. Unfortunately, many of the trappings of modern burial–such as embalming, hardwood coffins, and concrete vaults–are designed to delay the natural process of decomposition. Though these ideas have become modern standards, the truth is that anything we can do to return to the earth more easily will lessen our impact on the environment. See our previous article, The Green Goodbye, which explores new trends in eco-burials. Key ecological points include: 

     

    • Preservation: Embalming slows the decomposition process. For those whose tradition does not designate embalming as part of the burial practice, consider skipping this step, and opt for a closed casket and rapid burial.
    • Coffins: Cardboard, bamboo, or jute coffins, shrouds, or biodegradable urns are all dignified ways to unite with nature more rapidly.
    • Green Burial Grounds: The Green Burial Council and other organizations are taking strides to develop and identify sustainable burial and cremation practices, locations and companies.
  5. Leave a Living Marker It can be important for mourners to have somewhere to go to remember their loved ones long after the funeral is over. Natural or living memorials can be wonderful alternatives to quarried headstones or marble mausoleums. Consider planting a tree or a bush that will carry on in honor of the deceased. Online memorials are also becoming increasingly popular. For inspiration, New York’s New School and the The U.S. Forest Service have explored visions of the living memorial through their project, Land-markings: 12 Journeys through 9/11 Living Memorials.
  6. Give Gifts of Sympathy Cut flowers have a short shelf-life; besides, flower-farming can be a resource-intensive endeavor. It’s already common practice to ask for donations to charity in lieu of flowers; after all, what better way to remember the dead than to create a better world for the living? From organizations that provide solar power to the developing world to others that provide bicycles for AIDS caregivers, charity-giving is a magnificent way to honor the passions of deceased friends or relatives.
  7. Deliver a Just Tribute So much of what we hold dear about a person includes their ideals and convictions. It is fitting, then, to commemorate the life of a departed fellow TreeHugger with a memorial ceremony that touches on the subject of the environment. We are not suggesting a 10-hour lecture on Gaia Theory, but a joyful remembrance of a passionate green life well-lived. With more and more faiths and denominations fromCatholicism to Judaism and beyond embracing stewardship of the environment, it shouldn’t be hard to find a minister with sympathies for your cause. Green funeral providers and any funeral director will also be able to offer advice on how to create a unique, personalized ceremony.
  8. Green Your Funeral Service As with any event, much of the environmental impact is in the details. Even if you don’t opt for any of the ideas above, you can still make a funeral greener by incorporating the following practices into the gathering. 

     

    • Programs: Use recycled paper for programs or hymn sheets.
    • Flowers: Source any flowers from organic, local growers.
    • Procession: Make arrangements for carpooling from location to location during the funeral.
    • Refreshments: If the deceased was an environmentalist, the chances are they enjoyed local, organic food. If refreshments are being served, it makes sense then to look closely at where they come from. TreeHugger’s How to Green Your Meals provides helpful tips and guidelines for selecting the refreshments of your choice.
  9. The Ultimate Recycling We’ve already suggested that using biodegradable coffins or urns, and avoiding concrete vaults, can help reduce our impact by returning our remains to the earth. However, some folks are taking this even further by finding safe ways to literally compost human remains.
  10. Return to the Woods The woodland burial movement, which started in the UK, is widely credited with the birth of interest in natural funerals in general. Not only do woodland burials involve low impact ceremonies, they also aid in the return of a piece of land to a natural forest. Trees and native wildflowers are often planted above a grave, and because the location becomes dear to the families of the deceased, chances are good that the site will remain protected for years to come.

 

Cremation ceremonies in Varanasi, India || Dennis Jarvis/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

 

Green Funerals: By the Numbers

    • 56.5 million: The approximate number of people that die each year around the globe.
    • 50 million: Trees that are cut down in India each year for funeral pyres. This releases 8 million tons of carbon dioxide.
    • 270: The number of green and woodland burial sites in the U.K.
    • Up to 16 percent: Mercury emissions in the U.K. that come from crematoria because of the fillings in teeth. This percentage is expected to increase to 25 percent by 2020.
    • 1.6 million: Tons of reinforced concrete buried in the U.S. each year in the construction of vaults.

Sources: Yahoo!TreeHuggerDepartment for Environment, Food and Rural AffairsGreen Burial Council

Green Funerals: Getting Techie

Embalming became popular in the United States during the Civil War and is still a significant source of groundwater pollution today. Arsenic gave way to the less toxic formaldehyde as the favored embalming solution around the turn of the last century. However, formaldehyde poisoning can still be fatal and it is classified as a human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Some estimates say that one million gallons of formaldehyde are buried in embalmed bodies each year in the United States. Almost all of this will eventually make its way into our water supplies. Efforts are underway to gradually replace formaldehyde with glutaraldehyde, which is considered less toxic.

 

Cremation causes nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, heavy metals and particulates to be released into the atmosphere when a body is cremated. If a body has mercury-amalgam fillings, the mercury will almost certainly become air pollution unless the fillings are removed first. Burning a body inside a coffin also creates significantly more pollution than burning the body by itself. Modern crematoriums often have ‘clean smokestacks’ that ameliorate the associated emissions, at least to some degree, and the cremation industry has claimed that reports of pollution have been greatly exaggerated.

Books
Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love
Exit Strategy: Thinking Outside the Box
Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial
The Natural Death Handbook

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Deep-Frozen Woman ‘Denied’ Eco-Burial

 A.K. Streeter (@april2462) Living / Health March 2, 2012

Promessa AB/Screen capture
“Think About Death” the inscription at the Gothenburg cemetary reads.

Remember the story a few years back about an environmentally-friendly form of burial that sifted the toxic and valuable metals from corpses and put resulting nutrient-rich dust into biodegradable caskets to replenish the earth as compost?

OK, maybe you haven’t heard. But this type of eco-burial was the passion of researcher and business owner Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, who formed a company, Promessa Organic AB, to help dead people that wish to quickly return to the earth. According to Wiigh-Mäsak, her method is much more sustainable than our current embalming in caskets, or cremation. Traditional casket-buried bodies are deeply buried, rot slowly and release methane as they do so, Wiigh-Mäsak has said. With Promessa’s process, powdered bodies will be shallowly buried and break down much more quickly.

Except that in Sweden, the freeze-drying and shallow burial of corpses has no precedent, so this new form of eco-burial has yet to go forward.

Thus the body of Jane Günther, who had herself frozen upon her death in 2009, is still waiting (thus far in vain) for the Swedish state to comply with her last wishes. Recently, the Swedish Tax Authority threatened to force conventional burial of Günther’s body against those wishes, as it seems there’s a legal limit for how long corpses can remain unburied.

Gunther is one of 12 Swedes to undergo the deep-freeze in anticipation of a Promessa-style eco-burial, while Wiigh-Mäsak waits for approval of her technique.

The main problem is that Swedish law only allows for two forms of burial – cremation, or burial in a casket. At Promessa, a body is first chilled down to -18C. Once she’s obtained permission for her process, Wiigh-Masäk’s clients will be dunked in liquid nitrogen (obtained as a byproduct of the medical industry) which freezes them to -196C. Wiigh-Mäsak says this makes a body very brittle, and subsequent agitation causes the body to break apart and eventually disintegrate. Heavy metals are then filtered out by means of magnets, and the remains put into a biodegradable corn casket and buried in a shallow grave. Wiigh-Mäsak says in 6 – 12 months the body will be rich compost.

“Whether we burn our body or bury it six feet under, we neglect the possibility of bringing our organic remains back to nature, thereby becoming part of a balanced process.” – Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak

Researcher Bengt Johansson isn’t convinced that the method will work. Wiigh-Mäsak has said she’s tested the method on hundreds of pigs, but she hasn’t publicly shared her research findings.

Johanssom, a professor of anatomy at Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy who has worked with freezing technology, told a Swedish newspaper he doesn’t believe bodies will react in the way Wiigh-Mäsak says they will, and wants further scientific, peer-reviewed proof.

So it’s a fight to the death, or beyond.

Wiigh-Mäsak is planning to build a Promessa facility this year to handle more burials with her method, which she calls promession.

 

From Doula to diapers: bringing up a green baby

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From Doula to diapers: bringing up a green baby

Original article: treehugger.com//how-to-go-green-babies

From Doula to diapers: bringing up a green baby

tiny baby foot photo

A new baby entering your life can create an enormous number of unexpected changes. Along with the little one comes a whole new category of things to purchase — not only the obvious large items like furniture and diapers, but also all the unforeseen extras that seem to accumulate. While having a baby is consumer heaven, the key is to not be gulled into an unnecessary buying frenzy. In truth, a baby has very minimal needs. On the flip side, there is more to a sustainable life with your baby than cloth diapers, organic baby food, and fair-trade clothing…read on for more.

Top Green Baby Tips

    1. Choose the right diapers
      Studies are divided on the subject of environmental impact of disposables vs. cloth. But knowing that your baby will use approx 6,000 diapers before toilet training, and that disposable diapers take 200-500 years to decompose, this is certainly a key issue to ponder. Washing cloth diapers takes water and energy (not to mention time), but it’s a great way to avoid chemicals. Use natural laundry detergent then set it out in the sun to bleach out any stains. You could also consider the benefits of a laundering service. One study has found that home-washing cloth diapers has only 53 percent of the ecological footprint of disposables, and if you use a diaper laundering service that impact is halved again. Another plus is that the same cloth diapers can be passed down to future babies.

       

      Cloth diapers: Reusable diapers aren’t what they used to be and the days of diaper pins are all but bygone. Go for fitted cloth diapers with Velcro or snap closures for convenience, made from an eco-friendly material such as hemp, bamboo, or organic cotton. Use an organic wool cover that is both warm and breathable, minimizing diaper rash and cold bottoms at night. Use either removable or flushable liners and when washing either use a laundering service or wash at home at lower temperatures. With a new baby around you’ll probably notice a lot more laundry piling up, so make sure you’ve optimized your setup with an efficient machine and non-toxic detergent. If you can line-dry, that is ideal, but don’t bother ironing.

      Biodegradable diapers: Made with plant-based plastics (also known as bioplastics), these diapers are non-petroleum based and are compostable. While these have been found not to break down under landfill conditions, there are other options to compost them such as using a composting toilet, an earthworm system, or a highly active and properly conditioned composting area. Hybrid diapers, like gDiapers, have removable inserts that can safely biodegrade when flushed. But be careful, some so-called ‘green’ diapers, like Seventh Generation, can contain petroleum gels,so make sure to do your research first!

    1. Feed your little one: From breast or bottle?
      This one’s a no-brainer: breastfeeding is best. It’s free, has health benefits for mother and baby, has no environmental impact, and is a precious bonding experience. However, in our commerce-driven society there are products for everything, and breastfeeding is no exception. For breast pads, ditch disposables and try re-usable organic cotton or wool felt pads. While there are many great, organic nipple creams available, some locally produced olive oil or organic lanolin does a great job. If bottle feeding becomes a necessity, pumping your own is the first choice. Beyond that, using a fair-trade organic infant formula is preferable. If this is neither affordable nor accessible, then the next best thing is to ensure the brand of formula you buy is from a company not profiteering from marketing their product to developing countries. These companies disregard or try to get around the marketing code set by The World Health Assembly.

    1. Chow down on solid foods
      At about six months, babies starts to eat real food. Rice cereal and mushy veggies turn to combinations of fish, meat, eggs, legumes, and vegetables–yep, a regular person’s diet. Buying jars of food is sure convenient, but as an adult you don’t live out of jars, so why should your baby? For those occasional situations,purchase organic or fresh frozen baby foods. Otherwise, make your own. Cook up veggies, casseroles, or tofu and lentils, whatever is your thing, and freeze it in tiny containers or ice cube trays ready to take out and defrost when needed. (Be sure you discuss any concerns over dietary requirements with your health professional)

    1. Dress your baby in smart green clothing
      All those designer baby clothes are cute and oh so hard to resist in their fruity colors. But be careful. Not only does a baby grow out of clothes amazingly fast, they are constantly sending bodily fluids flying onto those precious outfits. The baby couture might be better replaced with convenient one-piece suits in practical white terry cloth. Choosing organic hemp or cotton, bamboo or wool fabrics made without toxic chemicals are best against a baby’s sensitive skin and last longer with the constant washing. Second-hand clothing is the cheapest and most sustainable option. Get hand-me-downs from friends and family or look in thrift shops, Craigslist, or Freecycle.

    1. Lather up with natural skin care
      It’s very easy to get sucked into the constant advertising of baby powders, creams, and lotions, but avoid soap on a baby’s delicate skin – less is more for their skin care. The best baby lotion is plain old olive oil or coconut oil–cheap, natural, and un-perfumed. As for other products, keep it as natural, organic, and fragrance-free as possible. Weleda diaper creams and lotions are great. For more on this, take a look at our guides for How to Go Green: Women’s Personal Care and Everything you need to know about natural skin care.

    1. Wash up: Green laundry and washing
      It’s quite possible that our war on germs is actually making things worse. Studies have shown that children brought up in over-cleaned houses are more likely to develop allergies, asthma, or eczema. The best thing you can do for sensitive baby skin is not to cover it with synthetic chemicals. Wash nappies with pure soap and warm water. Make your own non-toxic cleansers with simple ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar. For more, see How to green your cleaning routine.

    1. Make play-time green-time with greener toys
      Get back to basics and try old fashioned wooden toys and organic cotton or homemade teddies. Because babies put most things in their mouths, go as natural as possible, then when baby is a little older, get hold of second-hand toys. Also aim for toys that help build a child’s bond with nature and the natural world. The sad truth is that the average American kindergartener can identify several hundred logos and only a few leaves from plants and trees.

    1. Rest easy with green furniture and accessories
      Babies don’t need much–a secure place to sleep, a car seat, a high chair, and a way to be trundled around. Go for second-hand furniture, everything except cot mattresses (some research suggests a link between second-hand cot mattresses and sudden infant death syndrome) and car seats, (which can have invisible accident damage). If you buy new furniture, purchase high quality, durable pieces made of sustainable, low-toxicity materials. Think about some alternatives to the regular old wooden baby bed; try using an organic cotton baby hammock or a cot that extends into a bed and lasts 6-7 years. The most ethical option for stroller (pram) is recycled. For more on furniture, see our guide for How to choose green furniture.

    1. Improve your indoor air quality and maintain a healthy household environment
      It goes without saying that alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking while pregnant are bad for a baby. But it is also very important to avoid exposure to the synthetic chemicals contained in everyday products such as paints, carpet, furniture, bedding, and pesticides which make up Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)in the air you and your baby breath. When decorating the nursery, use natural and low-VOC paints and don’t lay new carpet before the baby is born. Suspicious new items should at least be left outside to off-gas for a few days before bringing inside.

  1. Wipe out chemical cleaners and disposable liners
    Diaper wipes and liners commonly include propylene glycol (a binder also found in antifreeze), parabens (a family of compounds commonly used as preservatives) and perfume, which can be made from up to 600 different chemicals. Try using good natural organic cotton wool and water and avoid disposable changing mats and perfumed diaper bags.

 

Babies use A LOT of diapers every day by Sean Dreilinger/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

 

Green Babies: By The Numbers

    • 6000: The number of diapers the average baby uses before potty training.

    • 200 to 500: Years it takes petroleum-based disposable diapers to decompose.

    • 49 million: The estimated number of disposable diapers used per day in the United States; Australia uses 2.2 million, Japan uses 6.7 million, and the U.K. uses 9 million.

    • 53 percent: A home-washed cloth diaper has only 53 percent of the ecological footprint of disposables, and a diaper laundry service has a mere 37 percent of that footprint.

  • $1.4 billion per year: The estimated amount of money Americans spend on complicated births due to smoking while pregnant.

 

Josh Dubya/CC BY 2.0

 

Green Babies: Getting Techie

Toxic chemicals can have great impact in babies’ lives since they do so much growing and developing early in life, so it can be more important to keep them out of our youngsters’ systems. Here are some of the worst:

 

Bisphenol a is an endocrine disruptor — meaning it mimics hormones in our bodies, upsetting the delicate natural balance and changing the way babies develop — used often in polycarbonate plastic water bottles. When it’s done in baby’s body, it enters the water system, where it effects the hormonal development of fish and other aquatic life. TheFDA acknowledges it’s risky for youngsters.

Lead, which was used in paint for many years, and still pops up in some kids toys even today (yikes!), is a banned neurotoxin that can disrupt your child’s brain development. Learn more about getting the lead out of your home.

Attachment parenting, involving sleeping with and wearing your baby, while not for everyone, is said to promote a strong bond leading to a sensitive, emotionally aware child. It is based on the theory developed by Dr. William Sears that babies are born with a need for nurturing. Attachment parenting has been a controversial parenting method in the media and the extent to which it can be considered ‘green’ is debatable. Many parents who are opposed to attachment parenting feel that letting the baby sleep alone or not responding every time it cries teach a baby independence. Find out what feels most natural and go with it. Trust your parenting instincts.

Elimination communication is a technique of timing, signals, cues, and intuition to help baby/infant express his or her poo-related needs; using it may help you not use diapers at all. This is best begun before six months of age, and while it is most commonly used in third-world countries where parents are in constant contact with their children, it has been used in the West with some success.

With reporting by Manon Verchot

Irish Radio Treasures

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New Natural History series on RTE 1 and Cape Clear courses

Subtitle for your message

IWDG were once again delighted to be invited to contribute to a Crossing the Line natural history production and the “whale” show recorded off Dunmore East on Martin Colfer’s MV Rebecca C back in Jan 2012 will air on Sun 9th June on RTE Radio 1 at 7:00 pm.  A full schedule of this 10 part series is given below.  For those of you who have missed the first two shows, they are available at:  

NATURE ON ONE 10 x 30min Natural History Radio Documentary Series STARTS SUNDAY 5th MAY 2013 on Radio 1 at 7pm Bringing the sounds of Ireland’s natural world to Radio 1 listeners This ten-part radio documentary series sees Emmy award-winning wildlife cameraman and television presenter Colin Stafford Johnson turn his talents to radio. Colin travels across the country on the hunt for some of our most remarkable animals and wild places. Tune in and allow yourself to be transported to Skellig Michael, with its noisy storm petrels, manx shearwaters and puffins; or into the midst of a grey seal colony on the windswept Inishkea Islands; venture below ground and imagine yourself being surrounded by swarming bats; or experience the sounds recorded inside a starling roost under a Belfast bridge. Over the course of ten weeks, Colin will guide his audience on an intimate tour of Ireland’s natural world. A Crossing the Line Production on behalf of RTÉ Radio One & BAI Sound & Vision   EPISODE 1  A Night on the Skellig Rocks In 600AD early Christian monks chose Skellig Michael, 11km off the Kerry coast, as a location for a monastery ‘on the edge of the known world’ which they believed would bring them closer to God. In this episode Colin Stafford Johnson spends a night on Skellig Michael, to record the wild sounds to be heard at this World Heritage Site – introducing the puffins, storm petrels and manx shearwaters who also choose to make their home on this rocky outcrop. In addition to meeting its wild inhabitants, Colin talks to OPW guides who spend the summer living on the island, and tourists who have made the day trip; as well as a local diver who describes the Skellig landscape below the surface.   EPISODE  2  The Burren: a special place for bumblebees, plants and people Colin Stafford Johnson visits Slieve Carron Nature Reserve in the Burren, Co. Clare. The Burren is unique and is known throughout the world for its vast limestone pavements, but far from being a barren landscape, as Dr Brendan Dunford explains, the Burren holds a diverse flora, a mix of Mediterranean and alpine plants found nowhere else in Ireland. It is also home to some of Ireland’s rarest bumblebees. When you hear Ecologist Dr Jane Stout’s take on bumblebees you will never see a passing bee the same way again, but as furry, endearing creatures! Colin learns about the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme and meets local farmer Pat Nagle. We also meet 13-year-old Jack McGann, graduate of Ecobeo, a course for young people on the natural, cultural and archaeological heritage value of this landscape.   EPISODE 3 The Seal Colony of the Inishkeas Colin Stafford Johnson joins grey seal expert Dr Oliver O’Cadhla on a visit to South Inishkea, off the Mullet Peninsula, home to one of Ireland’s largest grey seal breeding colonies. Having spent years researching the seals at this colony, Oliver is passionate about this place and these animals and explains their struggle to survive in this harsh environment. It’s mid-October and very cold. There are lots of pups on the beach, but they won’t all make it. The mothers are busy feeding their young, while the large dominant male seals protect their harem. On this remote wild island, we get a peek into the secret lives of the grey seals that are born there.   EPISODE 4  Species in Danger In this episode of ‘Nature on One’, Colin Stafford Johnson seeks out one of our most endangered species, the curlew. Searching across bog in Co. Mayo, Colin sets out to record the once familiar call of this iconic bird of Irish peatlands and Ireland’s largest wader. Anita Donaghy, from Birdwatch Ireland, explains why the curlew is in decline and their ‘Cry of the Curlew’ campaign. [see http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/Ourwork/CryoftheCurlewAppeal/tabid/1106/Default.aspx] Colin also wants to find out how some of our smaller, lesser known species – our snails and slugs – are doing. With a third of Irish mollusc species facing extinction, Colin is delighted to hear some good news for one species in Co. Longford as he meets up with Evelyn Moorkens to investigate a recently discovered site for one of our most rare animals, Desmoulins Whorl Snail, Vertigo moulinsiana.   EPISODE 5  Rise of the Pine Marten Historically widespread throughout the country, the pine marten suffered serious population decline due to habitat destruction, hunting for the fur trade; accidental poisoning and persecution by game-keepers so that, by the 1950s, it had become one of our rarest animals. But now the pine marten is on the rise once again and sightings are increasing across the midlands. Colin visits a small school in Co. Leitrim, in which a female pine marten chose to set up home and the pupils explain how they felt about this new addition to their school. Colin also explores the impact of this spread of the pine marten on other animals, meeting up with Emma Sheehy from NUI Galway in an Offaly woodland, where she is studying the interesting relationship between the pine marten, the red squirrel and the introduced grey squirrel.   EPISODE 6   Sunday 9th May, 7:00 pm Whaling off Hook Head Colin Stafford Johnson heads offshore with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, from Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, to try to find the second largest animal on earth, the fin whale. No less than 24 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded in Irish waters, ranging in size from the harbour porpoise to the blue whale, the largest animal that has ever lived. Will they manage to track down what is known as the greyhound of whale species, the fin whale?   EPISODE 7  The Secret Life of Irish Caves – from swarming bats to ancient bones Late one Autumn night, Colin Stafford Johnson heads underground to explore what wildlife might be found in Irish caves. Colin meets bat specialist Conor Kelleher in Dunmore Cave, Co. Kilkenny, where they hope to witness the autumnal swarming of Natterer’s bats. This phenomenon of Autumnal swarming in caves was only discovered in Ireland last year, and it is still not known why the bats do it – using up valuable fat reserves just as their winter hibernation approaches. In addition to this living wildlife spectacle, caves are also important repositories for our extinct fauna. To find out why this is and what has been found in Irish caves, Colin heads to the Natural History Museum to meet Nigel Monaghan, Curator, and to examine some of the ancient remains found in Irish caves.   EPISODE 8 The Wild Side of Belfast We tend to think of wildlife as living in pristine countryside, in woodland, rivers and bogs, but this week Colin Stafford Johnson heads to the bustling city of Belfast to find out what wild stories it might have to offer. The River Lagan flows right through the centre of the city. Ronald Surgenor, is a Wier operative, Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure, and RSPB volunteer, who knows the river intimately and Ronald kindly takes Colin out in his rib, to visit Albert Bridge, the site of an amazing wildlife display, a starling murmuration, and they venture right under the bridge for a close encounter with the birds as they roost for the night. Colin also meets Lucille Coates and some children from ‘Watch this Space’, a Belfast City Council monthly nature club; as well as a team of volunteers who are hedgelaying, with the Laganscape Project, which works to manage Lagan Valley Park, with involvement from local communities, school groups, businesses and volunteers.   EPISODE 9        Birdsong – why do birds sing and what does it mean to us humans? Colin Stafford Johnson explores that wildlife sound we often take for granted – birdsong. At the Devil’s Glen in Co. Wicklow, he meets up with Animal Behaviour expert and Head of the Zoology Department in Trinity College Dublin, Dr Nicola Marples, to ask her why birds sing, and how they learn their tunes. Colin also travels west to meet with Gordon Darcy, Natural History author, artist and environmental educator, to discuss what birdsong might mean for human beings and how it may enrich our lives, whether or not we recognise it.   EPISODE 10        ‘An Amphibian Love Story’ – Singing frogs and Nattering Toads How does one attract the opposite sex? It could be good looks, physical fitness, a nice home, or even how you smell! But what about how you sound? In some animals it’s all in the voice. Toads and frogs have developed impressive calls to attract a mate. In this episode, Colin Stafford Johnson looks at two of Ireland’s amphibians, the common frog and the Natterjack Toad, and sets out to record their unique calls. In February he explored a mass frog spawning site at Glendalough in Co. Wicklow with Rob Gandola, from the Irish Herpetological Society; and in April, Ferdia Marnell, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and local conservation ranger Pascal Dower visit a Natterjack Toad breeding pond at Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry.     IWDG Cape Clear Whale-Watching courses There are still some places left on the 1st of our summer weekend whale-watching courses May 31- June 2nd on Cape Clear, Co. Cork. These courses are available for members at a discounted rate of €70.  Over the weekend participants will learn both practical field-skills during land and boat based watches, as well as attend a series of talks covering cetacean ecology/biology, species identification and whale watching.  Given reasonable weather conditions these weekends generally provide sightings of porpoises, common dolphins and minke whales and at this time of year, we can’t rule out basking sharks, although admitedly this has been a very poor year to date for this species, due to the lower than normal water temperatures.   Enquiries to email: padraig.whooley@iwdg.ie or Ph. 353 (0)86 3850568   Whale Watch Ireland 2013, Sunday 18th August 2013, 2:00-5:00 pm We are once again delighted to announce that Inis, Cologne www.perfume.ie are providing funding support for All-Ireland whale watch day on Sunday 18th August. As always this event requires watch leaders willing to lead and promote your local watch.  If you have land- based whale watching experience, are good with crowds and have some energy and time to spare, we’d appreciate your contacting us, so we can start to compile a list of sites that we can cover on this event, which is one of the largest events on the Irish wildlife calender.  Please contact event organiser on email: padraig.whooley@iwdg.ie or Ph. 086-3850568

Add-ons;- Lismore area; http://youtu.be/GizCoPx45_Q

St Declan’s Way

 

Short clip on Tramore’s Metal Man; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7cTcenRev0&feature=youtu.be

Swimming pool – au natural

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A Natural Swimming Pool That Works for You

By John Robb (Resilient Communities). http://www.resilientcommunities.com/?inf_contact_key=284fdcfb53503b6d362a75d5644c49bb571874cfb5a179fc85273259247b692e

Robb writes on all sorts of interesting topics – here he teams up with  Shlok Vaidya as contributer

When I was a pilot, I spent years surveying the built environment from above.

One thing that amazed me is how many people own swimming pools.  In some areas of the country, it seems that nearly everyone has a pool (in some cases, the pool is almost as big as the footprint of the home itself).

But things have changed.  We don’t have the luxury of allocating that much space to a sterile, unproductive pool of water that requires constant attention and financial support?

We need to put that space to work.

But are there any other options?  Is it possible to build a pool that does more than just support our playtime?

I believe there is.   It’s called a natural pool.

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The natural pool, doesn’t fight nature tooth and nail.  It embraces it in a very tangible way.

Instead of engaging in chemical warfare, the natural pool uses an ecosystem of plants to cleanse and filter your swimming water.  To do this, designers create a wetland in a shallow and distinct area of a pool to act as a biological filter.

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This include the following components:

  • Microorganisms. For example, zooplankton eat algae to keep your water clear.
  • Aquatic plants. They absorb the nutrients that the bacteria break down. Indigenous plants are used as much as possible. You can also grow edible plants, for example, rice, watercress, or wasabi.
  • An inert substrate. This way the plants are forced to draw their nutrients from the water itself, thereby keeping the water clean.
  • Retaining wall. Enables water flow between the two areas but prevents the plants from doing so.

In practice, the shallow water of the wetland area is circulated into the deeper water of the swimming pool.

This circulation enables your bio-filter to cleanse the water as it goes. Upkeep is minimal – one simply has to trim the plants as necessary and remove fallen leaves.

There are no chemicals to buy, minimal electricity costs (one pump), and no PH level monitoring. If needed, the bio-filter can be supplemented with an automated skimmer or UV sanitizer.

As an added bonus, because the wetland is a distinct area, it can be added to an existing pool in a retrofit with minimal additional digging.

Resiliently Yours,

 JOHN ROBB;- Resilient communities.

PS: Because the pool is designed for circulating water, the threat of mosquitoes is minimized.  Additionally, wildlife (frogs, dragonflies) will be attracted to the vegetation-filled part of the pool you don’t swim in. They’ll provide a free pest management service.  In contrast, when a chemically treated pool isn’t maintained, it can quickly collapse into a cesspool of larva (as we saw during the foreclosure tsunami a couple of years ago).

PPS:  I’ve been experimenting with aquascaped environments over the last couple of months, and I can attest that these systems can take care of themselves if you build the system correctly.

Resilient communities editor, Shlok Vaidya, contributed to this letter.

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Natural swimming pools provide all of the fun of a standard swimming pool, but without the chemicals and the maintenance.    As you can see below, a natural pool system can turn a recreational pool into a productive asset rather than merely a chemically laced cost center.

Planted ponds

The secret to a natural pools is something called a biofilter.  To clean the pool, you pump water through the biofilter (images via Gartenart).

GartenArt

What is a biofilter?  It’s usually made with porous rocks or gravel.  Essentially, any material that has nooks and crannies that bacteria can breed in.  With a biofilter, you actually want the bacteria to grow because they eat the pollutants in the water, cleansing it in the process.