We spoke with Horticulturist and Garden Design Ciara Travers about the upcoming Sustainable Living Festival taking place in the Botanical Garden’s on Wednesday May 8th - Wednesday May 15th. This is a free event open to all. For further details on this and future events visit here.
This is the National Botanical Gardens first large scale Sustainable Living Festival. What provoked the initiative this year?
The inspiration for this festival came about as a direct response to climate change and biodiversity loss. There appears to be a widespread acknowledgement and acceptance of climate change so we wanted to take a step beyond that and provide a forum where people can come together in a neutral, nonthreatening venue to get support and ideas on how to make changes in their everyday lives.
What are your main goals of the festival?
Our main goals are; to provoke conversations and debate, to provide ideas for change, to create actions that people can adopt in their everyday life and take the guilt out of sustainability. There is already a groundswell of personal reactions and activities in the domestic setting with people wishing that their lives were more sustainable yet not taking enough concrete actions to follow through and we want to arm people with the knowledge to do that.
“There is already a groundswell of personal reactions and activities in the domestic setting with people wishing that their lives were more sustainable yet not taking enough concrete actions to follow through and we want to arm people with the knowledge to do that.”
Have you seen an increase in interest in environmental issues from visitors recently, if so in what way?
Yes we feel that people are talking more about pollinators and bees and biodiversity. There is an increase in awareness in the detrimental overuse of plastics and the impact that it is having on the natural world. Single use plastic has become an ‘environmental flashpoint’ issue and there is much focus on this, but research has shown us that climate change provides a greater threat to life than litter in the oceans or found in the stomachs of whales.
Has there been any ecological changes you have noticed at the Botanical Gardens due to climate change?
In the gardens we monitor the arrival of spring on a yearly basis through the scientific study of bud burst in trees. This is known as phenology. By doing this we have scientific evidence that the climate is warming and there is a definite trend that spring is coming earlier.
“There is a definite trend that spring is coming earlier.”
For those who can’t make this years festival, do you have any core recommendations for individuals hoping to make positive and sustainable changes?
Absolutely! Get growing your own vegetables. It cuts down on air miles, the use of chemicals and is great exercise for your body and mind. If you don’t have green fingers or don’t have a garden, there are lots of things which can be grown easily in pots. Herbs and salad leaves are a great start. Compost your fruit and vegetable peelings, coffee grains, tea bags and garden clippings. Leave a patch of your garden go wild, to encourage biodiversity and pollinators. Do not use chemical sprays in your garden or household. If you don’t have a garden you can join a community garden or get an allotment. Plant or gift a Tree! A single tree can absorb 22kg of carbon dioxide per year.
Interview and Portraits by Laragh McCann. Garden pictures courtesy of the National Botanical Gardens