"Ireland's natural heritage is being steadily whittled away by human exploitation, pollution and other aspects of modern development. This could represent a serious loss to the nation."
– Irish Government Report, 1969
This urgent call for intervention to prevent the loss of our natural heritage is taken from a government report published in June 1969. Since then, nature in Ireland has continued to disappear at an alarming rate. Overfishing, industrial-scale farming and pollution have decimated wildlife habitats and populations. In a single lifetime, vast shoals of herring, rivers bursting with salmon, and bogs alive with flocks of curlew and geese have all become folk memories. Coastal and rural communities are struggling to survive; the foundations of our tourism and agricultural sectors are being undermined. The lack of political engagement frequently sees the state in the European Court of Justice for breaches of environmental law.
Pádraic Fogarty authoritatively charts how this grim failure to manage our natural resources has impoverished our country. But all is not lost: he also reveals the possibilities for the future, describing how we can fill our seas with fish, farm in tune with nature, and create forests that benefit both people and wildlife. He calls for the return of long-lost species like wild boar, cranes and wolves, showing how nature and wildlife can recover hand in hand.
A provocative call to arms, Whittled Away presents an alternative path that could lead us all to a brighter future.
Pádraig Fogarty, a professional ecologist from Castleknock in Dublin, holds degrees in Environmental Protection, Environment and Geography. Having served as chairman of the Irish Wildlife Trust, he now works as its campaigns officer and editor of the magazine Irish Wildlife. He is married with two children.