Community-Inspired Campaign To Clean Up Galway City's Forests & Parks Gets Underway!

Our Environmental campaign group ‘Friends of the Forest’ have joined forces with Galway City Council in order to implement a new initiative designed to secure public participation in regular major monthly clean-ups of the city’s public spaces.
While we fundamentally disagree with local authority officials' still existing plans to build a road through this most precious urban forest park that will all destroy its proposed development as an important ecological corridor , nevertheless we see no reason why we should not work with City Hall to increase public use of the forest and to help eliminate the waste crisis that exists in this important natural heritage area.There is a serious and growing litter problem in parks and other green spaces across the country. However, because of the local authority recruitment embargo, ordinary citizens must re-discover 'civic pride' and take up the challenge of helping to keep our valuable green resources clean in order to protect our increasingly threatened wildlife and to encourage greater use of woods and parklands by schools, arts groups and local communities.
Inspired by the international ‘Beach Watch’ project organised in Galway by Atlantaquaria (Ireland's National Aquarium), Friends of the Forest held a series of meetings with City Hall’s Environmental Education Officer Sharon Carroll and the Superintendent of Parks Stephen Walsh on implementing regular high-profile mass clean ups that would each month focus in on different public spaces across the city.The result is that the first of these major clean-ups known as ‘Glan Suas Gaillimh!’ (Irish for 'Clean Up Galway!') operating under the auspices of Galway City Council will start at 2.30pm on Sunday November 15th in the Terryland Forest Park.
Follow-on clean-ups will include Merlin Woods, Barna Woods and our seashores.
It is hoped that residents of all ages from all across the city will take part in this major partnership initiative that could make such a positive contribution to our city’s image and well-being.So well done to Sharon McHugh & Stephen Walsh for bing so supportive and proactive in doing every thing possible to ensure the success of Glan Suas Gaillimh!
Sharon in particular has gone over and beyond the call of duty to involve children in the clean-up as a continuation of her work with schools on the Green Flag initiative This litter drive will represent an important step in re-engaging the people of Galway with City Hall’s environmental policies. We are also now hopeful that Council will re-introduce an annual eco-programme for Terryland Forest Park and elsewhere that will include family tree planting days, community arts events and educational nature tours. Continued tree planting is urgently needed to offset global warming with our forests acting as ‘carbon sinks’. As well as being major biodiversity zones, forests also serve as important passive/active amenity areas.
The Friends of the Forest are also continuing their three year lobbying of the Minister of the Environment to introduce a national refundable levy on all drink containers purchased at off-licences and other retail outlets. As discarded cans and bottles are probably the number one cause of litter in Ireland, a refundable levy would have a beneficial impact on our environment by providing an economic incentive for people to keep Irish parks, roads, and waterways clean.
Such a monetary pay-back scheme existed in Ireland until a few decades ago and is very successful today in other countries.
The monies saved could then be used to encourage greater public use of our wonderful green spaces by funding the provision of park wardens, regular outdoor family events and park facilities such as picnic areas, community gardens and eco-learning centres.

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