Philip McCabe, President of Apimondia, tell us about moves being made in European politics to protect our bee populations. Ornithologist Eric Dempsey is in studio to give his thoughts on a gliding starling that Derek observed. Marine biologist Rowan Byrne finds out about a new type of biodegradable wet wipe. And could you live without plastic for a week? Arlene Finn, of Galway City Council, tells us about a new challenge being issued to Galwegians to avoid single-use and disposable plastic for seven days, as Mooney Goes Wild researcher Sinéad Renshaw is tasked with undertaking the same test!
Where would we be without bees? They are arguably the most important species to our continued survival. Some argue that if bees disappeared off the face of the earth, mankind would die off in a matter of years.
We could lose all plants that bees pollinate – this amounts to 80% of the world’s most eaten crops. Fruit and veg would disappear from our supermarket shelves. And that’s only for starters. What would happen to the animals higher up in the food chain like cows, pigs, the diary industry etc that feed on the plants which bees pollinate?
Cotton would disappear without bees. The price of clothing would increase. Biofuel could disappear - increasing our dependence on fossil fuels. Pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies also rely on healthy bee populations. However, we are losing bees at an alarming rate through the loss of meadows, climate change, use of pesticides and so on.
Some EU countries have seen a decline in bee colonies of more than 50%. Thus, MEPs are now calling for increased support for beekeepers: the banning of harmful pesticides, more investment in developing safe bee drugs, and a clampdown on imports of fake honey. Our Beeman, Philip McCabe, is also President of Apimonida (the International Federation of Beekeepers' Associations) joins Derek, Richard, Eric and Eanna in studio tonight to tell us more...
Pictured here at Bee Week 2016 in Brussels; (i) clockwise from top left: Philip deep in conversation with HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco; (ii) Gerry Ryan (President of the Federation of Irish Beekeeper's Associations, or FIBKA - www.irishbeekeeping.ie), Eamon Magee (former President of FIBKA), Philip McCabe and Mairead McGuiness MEP, Vice President of the European Parliament; (iii) Philip with Mairead McGuinness MEP and Mariya Gabriel MEP, the organisers of Bee Week 2016; (iv) Philip addresses beekeepers, scientists, farmers, researchers, politicians and a prince, as he delivers the opening address at the European Week of Bees and Pollinators.
For further information on how the MEPs are proposing that beekeepers are better protected, click here. And if you'd like to listen back to our documentary about Philip McCabe, The Beeman, then click here!
During the week, Derek was over in Birmingham in the UK. As he was sitting taking refreshment in his favourite coffee spot, Munchies, he watched starlings flying about – and was astounded to witness their gliding prowess - he reckons that he saw one glide for about 18 metres. Could that be possible? Joining Derek and the panel with his thoughts on the matter is ornithologist and author Eric Dempsey, of www.birdsireland.com...
Left; the starling that Derek witnessed 'gliding'; top right: Eric Dempsey; bottom right: Munchies
To read more about the special programme that Derek made about starlings in 2015, and to listen back, click here.
If you were listening to Mooney Goes Wild a few weeks ago, you’ll have heard a special programme we did on the catastrophic impact that plastic waste is having on marine life in our oceans – when a Couvier’s Beaked Whale died in Bergen, Norway, after 30 undigestible plastic bags had clogged its gastrointestinal tract, leaving little room for food. It was slowly and painfully starving to death when scientists put it out of its misery. If you didn't hear that programme, The Bergen Whale, you can click here to find out more and listen back.
Whilst cleaning up plastics in our oceans remains a priority, there’s yet another scourge on the horizon. Apparently our love affair with wet-wipes is already choking both our sewers and our seas – and is set to trigger another environmental catastrophe.
Left: Rowan Byrne; right: some of the wet wipes available from Jackson Reece
Marine Biologist Rowan Byrne of Mott McDonald has spent decades travelling the world researching endangered marine species, and he works with companies to develop innovative ways of keeping plastic out of the environment. One of these is Co. Armagh firm Jackson Reece. They’re producing a new kind of wet wipe, which is currently undergoing tests. Derek met up with Rowan Byrne, and Colin Cordner of Jackson Reece, to find out more...
Our documentary about plastic in the world’s oceans put a spotlight on the problem and has prompted much discussion on the issue. Now Galway City Council has issued a challenge to citizens to try living without single-use plastic for a whole week – with some well known local personalities acting as ambassadors for the initiative.
From the moment we wake up, our lives are usually surrounded by plastic
So how do you think YOU would fare with a total plastic ban? For a start, you might struggle to wake up in the morning, because most alarm clocks are made of plastic. Chances are your shower involves interaction with plastic so that’s out. Even if your taps are chrome, most likely your shower gel and shampoo bottles are not! So before you’ve even made it downstairs for the first cuppa of the day, life has already become extremely problematic - that’s if you’ve even woken up in the first place!
Left: Arlene Finn; right: Sinéad Renshaw
So whilst completely giving up plastic might be mission impossible for most of us, would it be so difficult to find alternatives to single-use plastic for a week? Arlene Finn is European Green Leaf Co-Ordinator for the City Council in Galway, and she joins us from RTÉ's Galway studio to tell us more about the initiative. And we're also joined in studio by Mooney Goes Wild's Researcher / Broadcast Co-Ordinator Sinéad Renshaw, who has been tasked with giving up all disposable plastic for the next week on behalf of the show!
Hedgerows: It is an offence to 'cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from 1 March to 31 August, subject to certain exceptions'. For more information, click here.
UPDATE: February 29th 2016 - Press Release From BirdWatch Ireland:
Putting the record straight: Dates for burning and hedge-cutting have NOT changed
BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland’s largest conservation charity, is very concerned about misinformation that is currently circulating regarding the dates within which the burning of vegetation and cutting of hedges is permitted. It would like to remind landowners that all burning and cutting must cease on 29th February this year and that burning and cutting remains prohibited from 1st March to 31st August.
Despite attempts by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., to change the laws regulating these dates by introducing the Heritage Bill 2016 earlier this year, it is important to note that the proposed date changes were ultimately NOT made. This is because the bill failed to pass through both houses of the Oireachtas before the recent dissolution of the Dáil in advance of the general election.
The laws in place governing the dates for hedge-cutting and upland burning therefore remain unchanged. The period within which cutting and burning is prohibited are set down in Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended in 2000), which states that:
(a) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated.
(b) It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy any vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period mentioned in paragraph (a) of this subsection (above).
The existing law provides exemptions for road safety and other circumstances and should be read carefully to ensure compliance.
Section 40 of the Wildlife Act exists to protect nesting birds. Many of our upland bird species are in decline and are in danger of extinction in Ireland; amongst them is the Curlew, which has declined by 80%. Many birds which nest in hedgerows into August are also in serious decline, including the endangered Yellowhammer. The changes to the cutting and burning dates which had been proposed in the now-defunct Heritage Bill 2016 would have caused serious impacts to these birds. A petition launched by BirdWatch Ireland in conjunction with several other national conservation organisations to stop these changes attracted more than 16,200 signatures and rising.
BirdWatch Ireland would also like to advise members of the public that if they see hedges being cut or fires in the uplands on or after 1st March, such activity could be illegal. In such cases, we would encourage people to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service (www.npws.ie) to report such activity.
BirdWatch Ireland warmly welcomes the demise of the Heritage Bill 2016 and sincerely hopes that any future administration will consider the importance of Ireland’s natural heritage and will not attempt to reintroduce such a flawed and damaging piece of legislation.
To contact your local wildlife ranger, click here for contact details. To read the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, click here.
Please DO NOT send any live, dead or skeletal remains of any creature whatsoever to Mooney Goes Wild.
If you find an injured animal or bird, please contact the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 1890 20 20 21, or BirdWatch Ireland, on 01 281-9878, or visit www.irishwildlifematters.ie