SIR – I read the Star report on flood control in Bandon. It must be hard, living in Bandon with all that going on. But even if it all works out as planned, it has its own limitations.
The Bandon valley is the most productive, richest, agricultural valley – its size, its aspect and latitude. We have to stand back and look at the whole river.
The scarcity of forest cover upstream makes rainstorm water run off too quickly. Farmers can see the establishment of deciduous forest as the extinction of hard-won fields. But times change.
The children of sheep farmers seek other lives and the land goes to forestry – sitka spruce plantations or wind farms. These won't tame the run-off from mountain rainstorms any better than close-cropped sheep fields do. And times change.
Very large wind turbines go offshore now and at night they will fill the batteries in our electric vehicles. Little (150ft) wind turbines on shaved hillsides belong to 10 years ago.
The bog is there above me, and maintains a flow in the stream by my house in the drought of summer, but only forest can tame the river, like it did before human history got here; the birch, the hazel, ash, rowan, holly and Scots pine and sessile oak and all the life that develops within such a place.
Along the road from us there's a hill farm of 135 acres, its house long abandoned, part wild wood, part leased out for sheep. Young men here who played in the wood as children and love and know it better than anyone now living, are now qualifying as tree surgeons. It's for sale.
Why not make this piece of land, with its mountain streams that feed your river, an example of ecological, permanent, flood control, using in part the seeds of the relic that survived the great cull of the 17th century by being just too inaccessible.
There's much more wealth in Bandon and Kinsale, and up and down there, than in the sheep farms below the Cousane Gap and Pipe Hill.
We could maybe create a new market for these uplands. Whether it's bequests in wills, Council subsidies, EU grants or pub whiparounds, buying land on the hillsides and establishing real forests is the grandest thing you can do for the future of your town.
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