Westport gets ready to talk climate change

Dr Conor Murphy (NUI Maynooth) will be speaking in Westport next week

Dr Conor Murphy (NUI Maynooth) will be speaking in Westport next week

The Geography Department at NUI Galway has organised two short talks for the public in Westport next Tuesday, April 5, to highlight how our response to recent extreme weather events and how our agricultural practices might be better adapted to anticipated changes in the climate.

As part of a broader workshop for its MSc class in coastal and marine environments it has invited Dr Conor Murphy (NUI Maynooth ) and Philip Farrelly (National Rural Network ) to speak in Westport next week. Philip Farrelly will describe how the new Green Low-Carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS ) will promote agricultural production methods compatible with the protection of the environment, water quality, the landscape, endangered species of flora and fauna, and climate change mitigation in a talk titled 'The GLAS scheme: opportunities and adaptation in a changing climate'.

Dr Conor Murphy's talk 'Are the recent extreme weather events changing the unwritten agreement between the Government and the people of Ireland?' will look at how citizens and communities may need to radically rethink their response to more common weather-related events. The general public is invited to go along to the talks on Tuesday April 5 at 7.30pm in The Clew Bay Hotel, Westport.

Over the last three winters Ireland has been hit by an unprecedented number of extreme storm events, leading to widespread damage from coastal erosion and flooding. The impacts of these events are especially felt by rural communities. Direct losses of land to erosion can mean part of a farm disappearing, or the loss of a beach-dune system that underpins the local tourist economy. Bertra Strand just outside Westport and Rossbeigh in Kerry are good examples of beaches that have seen significant erosion in recent years. Flooding and the loss of local bridges and roads has resulted in communities being completely cut off, or suffering severe travel disruption for long periods. Knockaniska Bridge west of Westport was completely washed away during a 2014 winter storm, in an extreme summer rainfall event in 2007 the bridge in Leenane  collapsed.

These examples only touch the surface of how recent increases in storm activity have affected coastal communities in Ireland, it may be beneficial for local communities and individual citizens to begin to think of what they can do for themselves in response to increases in weather-related hazards.


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