We review an interesting book about one man’s attempt to rewind an area of the Beara peninsula in West Cork. See more about the author Eoghan Daltun here.
An Irish Atlantic Rainforest: A Personal Journey into the Magic of Rewilding
Having covered many of the rewilding initiatives in Scotland, it is great to come across a book about an Irish project, in Beara, West Cork. The author is passionate, well informed and also open minded enough to travel to numerous other locations around the world to compare and contrast the many different types of rainforests there are, and there could be. It is a readable and interesting book.
It does raise some interesting questions. Daltun is clearly well on the road in terms of enabling and encouraging native Irish flora to return. He outlines effectively the problems with monoculture tree planting, and the damage it has and does do to Irish landscapes. It does seem amazing that we still have massive stands of coniferous plantations across the countryside, doing little to nothing to help Irish wildlife. Dalton also discusses the mess that is the management of Killarney National Park and its massive rhododendron problems. You do wonder if it is ever going to be solvable, at least as long as the national park is such a cash cow for so many people.
As flora is discussed, it does also raise the question of fauna too. As Scotland discusses wolves and lynx among other animals that could potentially be reintroduced it does make you wonder what might or could be introduced in Ireland too. Daltun does discuss the reintroduction of sea eagles, and the mixed progress to date. As always farmers need to be onboard for it to work, and the birds are susceptible to a range of factors which can impact on their survival rates.
Daltun’s book is thoughtful, self aware and realistic about what has been achieved and what could be possible too. Overall it is a massively positive project and hopefully it can provoke a wider awareness and discussion about how to improve our biological diversity in Ireland before it is too late.
Education at Beara Rainforest
One of the primary objectives at Beara Rainforest is to serve as an example of the potentially immense biological wealth of Irish temperate rainforest – even where limited to a relatively small and fragmented area – if adequately protected from the damage we cause it (for example, through invasive non-native species).
A further purpose of the reserve is to act as a ‘living laboratory’, within which the results of different approaches to restoring the ecological integrity of such ecosystems can be directly observed in the field. Visits by local primary school children are facilitated annually, with the aim of helping engender an awareness of the importance of such places in future generations.
The hope is that each and every visitor to Beara Rainforest will experience at first hand the beauty and biological richness of Irish temperate rainforest, and will come away with an enhanced and deeper appreciation of just how unique and worth preserving it is.
ABOUT EOGHAN DALTUN
Self-taught, rather than a trained ecologist or biologist, Eoghan is passionately interested in all aspects of ecosystems, how people interact with them, and what is required to allow them return to a healthy state. Having gained his knowledge through a combination of spending as much time in the field as possible (including a month in a variety of South African temperate and subtropical rainforests) and reading voraciously, one of the things he enjoys most about ecology is the fact that the more one learns, the more one realises there is always still far more to learn!
Visitors to Beara Rainforest should therefore expect to be engaged in an interactive discussion of the woodland around them, rather than passively listen to a one-way talk. Visits will also be tailored in a relaxed – and highly personalised – way to accommodate the varying levels of knowledge and understanding that the visitors themselves bring with them.
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