Galway City Council has sent out a circular in the last hour informing the public that the Spring Clean initiative has been suspended and furthermore asking citizens not to go outdoors to clean up at this time and to stay at home. They mentioned that their staff are currently operating limited hours in order to manage litter bins and emergency issues only.
Unfortunately as there are no bins (council policy) in the city's forest parks and as there is only one (great!) council staff member presently working limited hours assigned to litter management in these parks, this I feel will lead to a huge increase in refuse across our beautiful woodlands and meadows impacting on biodiversity and the public. Only one part of multiple sectoral Terryland Forest Park has a COVID-19 closure sign on its entrance gates (which is ignored anyway).
But I am shocked that the work of dedicated volunteers, working singly and respecting social distancing of park users, and which is essential to park maintenance at this critical time are been asked to discontinue their much needed activities. Key staff have to work in shops, in health administration and in local authority services. Is not the work of these volunteers also critical at this time?
We will of course keep by this new requirement. But the parks need looking after now more than ever as they experience increased footfall, though by people observing social distancing. Unfortunately as we know only too well anti social elements will take advantage of the situation and cause damage to our precious green lungs particularly with littering.
I wonder what is the opinion of our councillors and TDs?
I have to be honest and say that I feel so sad and almost tearful on what may happen to our great woodlands and meadows in the absence of volunteers and with limited on-the-ground parks staffing during COVID-19.