Friday, October 12, 2007

Water quality in Ireland 2006 - ups and downs

The Environmental Protection Agency has launched its 66 page 'Water quality in Ireland 2006 - Key Indicators of the Aquatic Environment' report.

Having monitored Ireland's surface and ground waters between 2004 and 2006, it shows "an improvement in river and lake water quality, but poorer quality in some groundwaters". Findings included that:
  • River channel: 71% was of satisfactory water quality.
  • Lake surface: 92% was of satisfactory water quality.
  • Estuarine/coastal water bodies: 19% were eutrophic; 3% were potentially eutrophic.
  • Groundwater samples: 57% contaminated by faecal coliforms; 25% exceeded the national guideline value for nitrate concentration for drinking water, and 2% breached the mandatory limit.
  • Fish kills: fewer than in 2005, but still unreasonably high.
For more:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Red squirrels pushed west as greys dominate the east

The latest survey of Irish squirrels, published October 2007, shows that grey squirrels now dominate the east of the country, with the threatened red squirrels pushed to the west, south-west and north-west regions.

Grey squirrels were introduced to Ireland in 1911 and are rapidly colonising the country. They damage broadleaf trees, outcompete red-squirrels for food, and are carriers of a squirrel pox virus that does more damage to red squirrel populations than to greys.

Kerry launches its biodiversity action plan

Co Kerry has launched a 4-year heritage and biodiversity plan. One of the objectives is to identify important unprotected or at-risk habitats, landscapes and archaeological sites.

Habitat of importance to Kerry’s biodiversity includes woodlands, aquatic ecosystems and rapidly declining hedgerows.

The Heritage Council has links to local county heritage plans.

The island of ireland

Once upon a time, and for 15000 years, ice a mile high blanketed Ireland. When the lingering Ice Age finally released and the Irish ice departed it left a landscape scoured. Across land bridges linking Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe plants and animals arrived to colonise the new lowlands, mountains and valleys. The world’s ice continued to melt, the sea levels to rise, and some 8000 years ago Ireland became the island we now know, accounting for just 0.01% of the world's total land area and the most westerly point of Europe.

Though at Alaskan latitudes, the country's climate is tempered, due partly to the neighbouring waters of the Gulf Stream and partly the prevailing southwesterlies that veering and backing make landfall on our sodden coast. These offerings from the Atlantic mean it is never too hot, never too cold. But without doubt it is wet. Rain lingers year round, never far away, though is most frequent in winter, the western counties and, inevitably, on the day of your parade.