If people could be trees

would there be enough room left for them to grow?

Cuttings 1 – Sinéad McClure

I live in a very beautiful place. I have often talked about how this landscape influences my work. When I was doing the monthly podcast it focussed me to look at everything so closely. To notice the seasons, and how each month passes. How one March could be completely different from the last March and how inevitably nature doesn’t hold itself back in spring.

The Calendar Road Podcast March 2012

The last yearly podcast was in January 2015. It was a very tough year something had to give and the podcast and my need to notice nature was lost. Since our first Covid-19 lockdown here in Ireland I have been able to find that again. I began walking each day—weather permitting—up to a distance of 5KM. I have walked this Calendar Road and others, through forest, boreen and byway. I often start out reluctantly but I always return with a spring in my step.

There are highlights too. Like seeing a red squirrel climbing a tree in the forest. Hearing the high cry of a buzzard. Chatting with the many horses and (sometimes) their riders who share these roads. Meeting a little dog in the village who greets me, as a friend, every time.

A view from The Calendar Road

Then there are days when I notice too much. Like the litter. Coffee cups and pandemic masks tossed into the verges. Or like last week a local landowner taking out large swathes of hedgerow, just at the beginning of nesting season. In Ireland and under the terms of the Wildlife Act, roadside hedge-cutting is only permitted between the 1st of September and the end of February, this is to protect our wild birds. But often this is not monitored and seeing the entire hedgerow not cut, but torn out of the ground, is breaching this law even further. I was watching the sparrows flitting from what were intended nests to new parts of the same hedgerow about to be destroyed. House sparrows are already deep into the hedgerow, we have a family of them here living in the honeysuckle.

The things you don’t want to notice is part of living rurally. Hedgerow cut or destroyed in spring, trees cut down, litter thrown and litter buried. Most turn a blind eye and enforcement relies on evidence. We have never lived as much behind curtains as we have in the past year. We judge each other over keeping our social distance, keeping covered, not gathering, cleaning our hands until they are raw. Yet, people seem reluctant to speak out over actions that are affecting our environment for years to come, and perhaps permanently. Maybe pandemics thrive in these conditions.

If you see any breach of the wildlife act contact the NPWS by email to natureconservation@chg.gov.ie outlining your concerns and providing evidence where possible.

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