2) Water Pollution & Habitat Destruction
Ireland’s long history of human inhabitation has had a devastating effect on the landscape with native woodland coverage plummeting from 80% to less than 2%! This anthropogenic change in land use has significantly impacted our precious waterways, as well as coastal and marine ecosystems. In fact, farming accounts for 53% of all water pollution incidents, according to AgriLand Ireland. In the absence of riparian buffers (vegetated riverbanks), agricultural runoff containing sediment, fertilisers, pesticides and other pollutants enter waterways unabated, destroying the precious ecosystems. A massive 65.2% of Ireland’s current land use is for agriculture, yet the industry only accounts for 7% of gross value added and accounts for 33% of greenhouse gas emissions. We work with local farmers to protect our waterways, sequester carbon and restore habitat throughout the Courtown Harbour water catchment, using a proven riparian restoration model.
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Although, banning single-use plastics is a step in the right direction, The Ocean Cleanup reported that 44% of marine debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch came exclusively from the fisheries industry. Aptly named, non-biodegradable ‘Ghost Nets’ continue to catch and kill marine species for hundreds of years. Sadly it is not just waste nets that cause harm to marine species. It is estimated that globally bycatch represents 40.4 percent of global marine catches. Bycatch refers to non-target species such as Tristan and many other seals rescued by Seal Rescue Ireland.