Nature brings us hope

Outdoor Living

FRAGILE BEAUTY A peacock butterfly pauses to drink some nectar from spring hawthorn blossom.

Nature and rewilding
Pat Fahy

Strange times we are living in. Walking through the streets of Westport, Covid-19 playing on my mind, ‘Ghost Town’, by The Specials playing on a loop in my head. The world fighting an invisible enemy that has ended the notion that we are separate from the world, realising in the end that we are all fragile and vulnerable.
After the situation was taken seriously by the community minded amongst us, it was welcome news to hear that according to Queens University’s Molecular Virology Department, Ireland is comparable to South Korea as the standard-bearer of best practice, if only in our projected outcome. Any good news – any at all – I’ll gladly take that glimmer of light.
It’s also at this time we feel really lucky to live on an island off an island in the far west of Europe, away from it all or at least from the worst of it. At the same time, my heart goes out to all our friends and relations in the UK and the US. Hospitals and staff there, like our own, are in a battle zone. Many have lost their lives to this wretched virus.
The battle zone is more like a minefield some working in it say, never knowing at what stage one of their own colleagues will go down.
“Put yourself in our shoes if you will,” one doctor explained. “Imagine you are walking along a beach and you see a sign that says ‘Danger, Mine Field’. Would you still keep walking and still enter that mine field? That’s what we have to do every day.”
Keep your distance, stay out of the minefield folks. Help the real heroes sacrificing everything. That’s the reality of the situation.
So how are we coping with it all? Getting out and about before you go around the bend seems to be the band-aid of choice. Some people are really noticing and appreciating nature for the first time. The din of modern life giving way to the hum of the nature.
The hope is that some subtle but long-sought-after benefits might come out of this situation. To quote Greta Thunberg: “There is a lot of talk about returning to ‘normal’ after the Covid-19 crisis outbreak, but ‘normal’ WAS a crisis.”
Venice has seen the return of fish and dolphins to their waters. The absence of cruise ships has allowed crystal clear water to appear once again. Hopefully there will be a reduction of cruise ships around the world and along with it a reduction in their many environmental impacts.
China has seen a dramatic improvement in its air quality. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has even stated that more lives will be saved than lost because of the lockdown due to the better air quality that has followed. In Sarajevo, one of the worst spots for air quality in the world, they say now it’s like breathing mountain air, surprising many in a very short space of time.
Nature is carrying on regardless. Spring birdsong and leaping lambs still gladden the heart. I see the primroses and the spring flowers. I see birds, bumblebees and butterflies making a start, and I know in my heart of hearts that they won’t stop bringing us hope. We need to make sure the earth never stops conjuring up such signs of hope, signs that remind us of the wonder of life and the importance of nature.

Pat Fahy is Biodiversity Officer with Westport Tidy Towns.