Transition Derry

Tackling Peak Oil, Climate Change and Economic Breakdown


As the Inishowen Environment Group prepare to host their 21st annual tree sale in Carndonagh this Saturday November 28th, the group estimates that close to 40,000 trees have been sold or given away since 1988, the year the IEG came into being.

“I remember our first tree sale well” says one of the founding members, Bev Doherty. “We had won a £3000 cash prize for coming third in a nationwide environmental competition where almost the entire Inishowen community rid the peninsula of rubbish over a single weekend. We decided to spend some of the money on native hardwood trees to donate to schools and offer the rest at a tree sale in Donal Eddie’s garden. Feeling flush, we decided to give away 10 trees free of charge to everyone that turned up. Our publicity must have been good. I arrived at Donal’s house at 9am that morning an hour before we were due to start, to find a huge queue of people snaking its way down his drive and onto the main road. I fought past the crowd to find the rest of the environmental group cowering in Donal’s kitchen, scared to face the mob! Needless to say the trees all vanished in a frenzy of activity; moreover we broke even as many people ordered large numbers.

“Last year with the recession we thought we might have trees left over, but we sold out in a couple of hours, and we turned away many disappointed people, many of whom had travelled from Derry, Letterkenny and beyond. People love to come and browse through the many varieties. This year we will have silver birch, beech, copper beech, rowan, Scots Pine, Norway maple, larch, willow, hazel, alder, lime, oak, red oak, chestnut, ash and hawthorn, as well as a selection of shrubs and hedging, and large orders have already been requested by community groups such as Transition Inishowen. Our trees are obtained from Donegal suppliers, and we’re particularly grateful to Coillte for their support over the years ”

The group maintains that there has never been a more urgent time to plant trees. They point to two scientific reports published in this last week alone that warn of the drastic consequences of climate change unless CO2 levels are returned to 350ppm, and global temperature rise is kept within 2 degrees of pre-industrial levels, a level that was set in 2007 by the IPCC and 2000 scientists. The Environmental Protection Agency in Dublin warns that at least 300 sq km of the country are likely to be permanently flooded by a sea level rise of up to 6 metres due to icecaps melting, and more intense storms; higher winter rainfall will make the severe flooding and contaminated water supplies seen last week in parts of Ireland and the UK, a yearly event. More worrying still was the Global Carbon Project report led by Professor Corrine Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, and the British Antarctic Survey that predicted a massive 6 degrees rise in global temperatures by the end of this century, heralding catastrophe and irreversible consequences for life on earth unless large cuts in carbon emissions are urgently made.

“As politicians dither and haggle in the run-up to next month’s UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, ordinary people are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, whether it be forgoing air travel, using the car less, insulating our homes better, changing to a renewable energy electricity provider, turning off our standby switches or buying locally produced food or indeed growing our own. Whole websites are devoted to these issues” continues Bev Doherty. “We are confronted with daily social pressure to conform to a high fossil fuel consuming lifestyle, but we know this has to change. We meet double standards all the time though, such as the advertisement by Ryanair in the London Independent last week, offering a flight to Lanzarote for £9.99 which was placed next to an article headed “Climate change is like a disaster in slow motion.” It’s said that planting just 7 trees per year will offset the carbon generated by an average European in a year, but this rises sharply as soon as we board a plane. Still, if everyone here in the North West, with a bit of space in their garden or farm, planted 7 trees this autumn, we would make a significant impact in the same way in which the entire Inishowen community came together to participate in our first clean-up campaign of 88, and the local environment will be all the more beautiful and richer in wildlife as a result.”

The Tree Sale begins at 11am at the Donagh Cross Carndonagh, and trees are €2 each. The public is urged to arrive in good time to avoid disappointment.

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