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EP1: ‘Climate Change’

In our Climate Change Special Eco Eye highlights the urgency and seriousness of our position; if the world doesn’t start to change, it could be the biggest regret in human history. We look at climate change in the world and how its effects are actually becoming visible. Climate change is no longer an abstract phrase that can be ignored. We look specifically at how Ireland as a whole is doing in meeting our Kyoto targets, the problems we still need to overcome, and offer more solutions as to how we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Duncan talks to all the experts including artic explorer Marc Cornelissen, who has set up the International College for Climate Change.

EP2: ‘Irish Islands, Forests and Environmental Issues’

Islands of Ireland Duncan takes a walk on the wild side when he takes the ferry to Clare Island to discover what lures people to the islands year after year. Raw beauty, rich heritage and wildlife fill the unspoilt landscape. Duncan goes island hopping and lands next at Inis Mor to see how the islands have managed to make tourism on their island sustainable for the future. Duncan proves that you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to have a good holiday, and that tourism doesn’t have to be at odds with the environment, but in fact can help improve and sustain a good environment. Carbon Sequestration Ireland has a long way to go to meet our Kyoto commitments by 2008 and forestry has huge potential to play a vital role in reducing CO2 emissions. Forests can absorb, store and reduce CO2 in the air. Duncan talks to the experts of COFORD’s research project, ‘Carbifor’ who have researched just how much CO2 wood can store indefinitely. Not only is forestry a benefit in reducing CO2, but also when compared to materials like concrete, metals and plastics wood is completely carbon neutral, whereas other materials add to CO2 emissions. For example even when we burn wood, it only releases the CO2 that it previously absorbed from the environment and stored. Northern Ireland overview Ireland’s environment knows no borders, and so when we look environmental issues we have to look at the whole of Ireland. Duncan goes up North for the first time in this series, to look at how Northern Ireland’s environment is currently managed and their plans for the future. He looks at specific important cross-border issues like shared waters and waste, and talks to the people who keep Northern Ireland’s environment clean and green.

EP3: ‘Bio-Energy’

Bio-energy: In this episode Duncan looks at the possibility of a whole town being sustained solely by bio-energy. Duncan visits Kelly’s Hotel in Rosslare, which has installed a wood chip boiler to take care of all the heat in the hotel, and a composting facility to deal with the bulk of their waste. He goes to Ballyshannon Recycling to look at how one farmer is turning waste into energy and on to Biogreen to fill up on some Rapoleum, (biofuels). And he also meets the Murphy family who have found a way to make their house much more energy efficient. Biodiversity and Farming: Duncan goes to Kildalton College to find out more about REPS 4 and the exciting new opportunities for farmers in growing energy crops. He also drops into the World Ploughing Championships to meet many farmers to see where they believe the future of farming lies. Pristine Waters: Duncan takes a trip up North to see how Lough Melvin, which borders the North and South of Ireland is managed and kept clean. He meets different people in the communities in Fermanagh and Leitrim who are doing their part in keeping Lough Melvin pristine, including the local fishermen, farmers and Rossinver Organic Centre.

EP4: ‘Sustainable Tourism’

Duncan goes west to examine the value and potential of sustainable tourism in Ireland. Focusing on the North Western area of the country with an emphasis on Westport and Clew Bay, Duncan explores sustainable tourism within the region. The Greening Irish Hotels Programme has encouraged hotels across the country to become ‘greener’ by saving energy and making use of their resources. Duncan visits the Westport Woods hotel and speaks to the General Manager Michael Lennon, about energy saving practices throughout the hotel specifically waste, energy, and water conservation. Transboundary waste crime Duncan goes up North to investigate the serious issue of waste being transported over the border. Duncan sees how the Environmental Protection Agency in the South and the Environmental Heritage Service in the North are working together to stop waste going over the border into Northern Ireland and being illegally dumped. Duncan gets in on the action and goes to a checkpoint in Cavan where Gardai and waste enforcement officers check vehicles for illegal waste being brought over the border. Neighbourwood Scheme Duncan travels to Kerry and Limerick to meet local people participating in the ‘Neighbourwood Scheme’. The scheme is funded by the Forest Service and offers support to local authorities, environmental NGO’s, private woodland owners and community groups to work together to develop woodland amenities in and around cities, towns and villages. Duncan meets local people from the Ballyseedy Action Group in Co. Kerry and also the Newcastle West Community Council in Limerick to find out how these communities have worked to build their ‘Neighbourwoods’.

EP5: ‘Transport’

Transport is Ireland’s greatest challenge in reducing emissions. All other contributors to greenhouse gases have been controlled in some way, however transport is out of control. Eco Eye looks at all our current problems; the worrying trend of commuters travelling long distances, the negative effects of urban sprawl, oil prices, and public transport that desperately needs to evolve. Duncan looks at future plans and solutions for public transport, in particular, Transport 21, and talks to all the key players. Eco Eye looks at ways of getting people out of their cars and onto public transport, and predicts the future for the private car. This is the second special in the series, and it is particularly relevant for Ireland and our present situation. If we don’t make major changes now, it is predicted that transport will account for 40 per cent of our CO2 emissions by 2010.

EP6: ‘Eco Tourism’

Duncan travels to the Slieve Bloom region to look at the possibility of Eco Tourism in the midlands region. He meets Christina Byrne from the Slieve Bloom Rural Development Society and they discuss what Eco Tourism has to offer, and in particular what the Slieve Bloom region has to offer tourists. Duncan takes a trail on an eco walk in the area and discovers the biodiversity and cultural diversity of the rural landscape. He meets Dr. John Feehan from UCD to discuss what natural attractions the area has to offer. Brown Bins/Organic Waste Food and Garden waste makes up one third of the total waste produced in an average household. This waste usually goes to landfill however with the introduction of the brown bin by Dublin City Council, this organic waste is now being collected separately and then eventually used for composting. There is currently a pilot trial for the brown bins going on in Dublin; they have been introduced on a phased basis in the region from 2005. Taking food and garden waste from the home and separating it from other household waste means we are solving the typical problems food waste causes. Duncan meets Nuala Mc McElhinney, a Dublin resident, to see how she is getting on with the introduction of the brown bin. BIOFOREST Biodiversity in our forests is under threat. There are now many endangered native species because of intensification of the land. Duncan looks at the importance of retaining existing wild habitats in our forests and encouraging even more diversity of species and eco systems. Duncan meets Professor John O’Halloran, Mark Wilson, and Dr. Daniel Kelly who have all been involved in a project called BIOFOREST. There is a need for our forests to be managed properly if biodiversity is to continue, so the project looks at methods to encourage biodiversity. Biodiversity in our forests is vital, not only can it provide shelter and food for wildlife but there is great potential for recreational use and amenities.

EP7: ‘Native Woodlands ‘

Duncan meets with members of the Forest Service to find out more about the Native Woodland Scheme. Developed by the Forest Service, the scheme provides support to landowners to protect and enhance existing native woodlands and also to establish new native woodlands. Landfills Currently almost all of our waste in Ireland ends up being sent to a landfill. Landfills are not designed to break down waste they simply just bury it. Modern landfills however are doing a lot more to protect the local environment than older dumps would have in the past. Duncan checks out two of Dublin’s biggest landfills, Balleally and Dunsink, and he discovers what happens to our rubbish after it’s buried. Dunsink landfill has entered a remediation and restoration phase, so Duncan takes a look at the type of work that goes on at a landfill when it closes, and its prospects for the future. Transboundary River Basins On our island of Ireland we have many shared river basins across the border between North and South. When it comes to looking after these river basins the Environment Heritage (EHS) in the North and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the South work together to monitor the rivers. Duncan travels north and south of the country to observe the work that is being carried out. He takes a boat trip on Lough Erne and chats with the Warden on how this particular area is taken care of. Duncan also investigates an oil spill incident in a shared river basin and talks to Deirdre and Michael Spillane from the EHS as they inspect the incident.

EP8: ‘Water Conservation’

Water conservation has become a major issue in Ireland today. Due to rapid population increase our natural resources are being pressurised and the consumption of water is increasing dramatically. We use so much water without even realising it, for an example we use 125 litres of water in less than five minutes having a power shower. Duncan meets with Tom Leahy of Dublin City Council to discuss this important issue. When it comes to conserving water it is important to see how we can save this precious resource. Duncan visits the Ecological Gardener Brenda Palmer who gives suggestions on how to cut back on water usage in the garden. Waste Prevention We produce so much waste, in the North and South of Ireland, however we could prevent this by simply reducing the amount of packaging on products. As consumers, we should opt for loose products rather than those that are multi wrapped. Duncan investigates this issue by doing an ‘eco shop’ with Karen Hardy who is the principal shopper of her household. Duncan checks up on Karen after she has done her shopping and points out different products that she could buy to prevent the amount of waste she brings home. Duncan also goes to Newry to talk to John Minnis from the EHS about this important issue of waste prevention. Indicative Forest Strategy Indicative Forest Strategy is regarded as a planning tool used to assess opportunities for new forest planting in a given area. Duncan meets with members of the Forest Service to look at the future of forestry in Ireland. He investigates what types of trees are suitable for our land and how they have an effect on our landscape. He also looks into the environmental impacts of forestry around the country as he travels to many forests throughout Ireland.

EP9: ‘Greenbox ‘

The Greenbox is an area in the North West of Ireland including all of counties Leitrim and Fermanagh as well as parts of neighbouring counties Donegal, Sligo, Cavan and Monaghan. It is a completely unique region and is a natural location for Ireland’s eco tourism destination. Duncan visits the area and checks out what it has to offer as an eco tourist destination. Taking the kingfisher trail he cycles around the region and stops off at different locations ranging from health farms to activity centres. Illegal Disposal of Waste Every household in Ireland is producing, on average, just over 1 tonne of waste per year. Since the introduction of waste charges there has been a huge increase in recycling and diverting waste from landfill. Just under a quarter of the household waste we know about is being recycled and 3/4 is being landfilled but it is estimated that a further 200,000 tonnes of household waste is unaccounted for. Duncan goes to the Wicklow Uplands to investigate the illegal disposal of Household waste. He finds out about the PURE project, which focuses directly on the fly-tipping/illegal dumping issue and goes to see some examples of dumping hotspots. Acid Gas We have inherited good air quality in Ireland, but air is not confined by man-made borders. Air is everywhere. In 2001, Ireland along with the rest of Europe committed to the EU Emissions Ceiling Directive to bring down emissions of four acid gases; sulphur dioxide, ammonia, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. But how far have we come in 2007? Professor Luke Clancy discusses the potential harmful health implications of poor air quality. And Duncan finds out what Ireland is doing to bring down emissions and talks to Brian Broderick about Ireland’s biggest challenge; transport.

EP10: ‘Drinking water in Ireland’

Duncan looks into the quality of drinking water in Ireland and finds out more about Cryptosporidium. He chats with Darragh Page of the EPA who explains exactly what this is. One of the main issues when it comes to drinking water in Ireland today is that we don’t know whether our water is of as high a standard as we would expect. We look at the various different tests that are carried out at laboratories to monitor the quality of drinking water in Ireland, while Tania chats to members of the public on their views about drinking water in Ireland. Public rights and Industry Duncan visits one of Ireland’s most polluted industrial sites at Haulbowline Island in Cork. The old Irish Steel works is reminiscent of dirty industries of the past that were allowed to operate with poor standards and little control. Duncan talks Paddy Nolan about the modern licensing system to prevent industrial pollution like this happening again. He also talks to Kieran O’Brien from EPA Office of Enforcement about what happens when things go wrong in industry and what role the public have acting as the eyes on the ground. Environmental Research Duncan explores the future of our environment — technology. We have smart cars and smart phones, so why not a smart environment? Duncan gets his white coat on and visits the labs of Tyndall National Institute in Cork, who are part of an exciting project called Smart Coast. This sensor wireless technology has the potential to monitor our water quality and relay this information to the public in real time. Farmers and Forestry Duncan travels to Donegal and meets with a local farmer John Jackson to talk about the recently announced Forestry Environmental Protection Scheme (FEPS), which accommodates farmers already in the REPS scheme to allocate some of their land to forestry. Duncan looks at the benefits and results of farmers getting into forestry, such as wood chipping and follows where the farmers produce such as woodchip is used; in local schools and a local hotel.