Air Date: Week of March 15, 1996
Facts about Saint Patrick's Day and the "green"ing of Ireland.
CURWOOD: In the season of St. Patrick's Day and the wearing of the green, we turn now to the ecology of Ireland. St. Pat probably caused all sorts of problems with biodiversity when he allegedly vanquished snakes from Ireland. Yet it's still an emerald isle, though over the centuries the green has turned from forest to fields. By the end of World War II, just about all of the broad leaf forest had vanished from Ireland, so right after the war the Irish started what is still probably the world's most ambitious tree planting program. Today they're planting 70,000 acres of trees a year, much of it in pine plantations. Still, Ireland is not self sufficient in lumber, and is a major importer of tropical timber products. Nor is it self sufficient in food production, even though more than 80% of Ireland's land is still in agriculture, pasture, barley, turnips, and of course potatoes. By the way, the major environmental problem is water pollution from farm runoff, and keeping the country's rivers and lakes safe for fish is an ongoing problem. And for the third week of March 1996, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.
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