Local Voices for a Sustainable Future: A Conversation with Vincent Hyland

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I had a compelling discussion with Vincent Hyland, environmentalist and author of “Wild Derrynane,” we delved into the heart of environmental and community issues along the Skellig Coast. The video of our conversation, featured below, captures the essence of Vincent’s deep connection to the land and his passion for a grassroots approach to environmental conservation and community development.

Local Solutions to Global Challenges

Vincent emphasises the importance of the local community’s role in environmental stewardship, particularly in the context of the Skellig Coast, an area known for its pristine habitats and significant contributions to marine health. His advocacy for a bottom-up approach resonates throughout our discussion, as he points out the shortcomings of top-down directives that often do not consider the intricacies and unique needs of local communities.

The proposed designation of the Skellig Coast as a “Greater Skellig Coast hotspot” by Mission Blue is a testament to the area’s environmental significance. This initiative, spearheaded by Dr. Sylvia Earle, highlights the coast’s role in promoting ocean health and supporting the local economy, particularly fisheries and tourism.

Bridging Community and Conservation

Vincent’s view extends beyond conservation; he sees the potential for these environmental initiatives to bolster local economies and enhance community cohesion. He stresses the importance of engaging every town and village along the Skellig and Iveragh Peninsulas in meaningful dialogue about their future, aiming to shape a sustainable path forward over the next few decades. Unfortunately, he notes, such discussions are currently lacking, leading to fragmented communities and competitive tensions over environmental resources.

Integrating Outdoor Tourism with Environmental Stewardship

Our conversation also touched on the potential for outdoor and adventure tourism to integrate seamlessly with environmental conservation efforts. Vincent believes that by giving nature its rights and involving local communities in the stewardship process, tourism can be a force for good, fostering health, well-being, and economic growth.

The Necessity of Biodiversity for Sustainable Living

Reflecting on changes he has witnessed over the years, Vincent highlights the dramatic decline in biomass and biodiversity, particularly the noticeable absence of insects that once thrived in the region. He supports initiatives like the Pollinator Plan, which underscores the critical role of bees and other pollinators in supporting agriculture and maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Vincent Hyland’s message is clear: real change requires the active participation of local communities in environmental and economic planning. By listening to those who live and work in these beautiful yet vulnerable areas, we can develop strategies that protect the environment and promote sustainable livelihoods.