Castle Espie Conservation Centre, Strangford Lough – a model of best practice in sustainability
Castle Espie featured on national television when it was selected for the filming of both Spring Watch and Autumn Watch on BBC2 in 2021 and it also featured in Winter Watch and Spring Watch in 2022. It is located in an idyllic setting on the western shore of Strangford Lough, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. A tranquil haven where you can immerse yourself in nature and dander along the many metres of easy walking tracks keeping an eye out for exotic birds while listening to the call of seabirds such as the famous Brent Geese.
It is very timely that the centre featured on national television recently because not only is it renowned for its’ collection of native and exotic birds but it is a model of best practice when it comes to the implementation of sustainability measures. Why is this important?
Sustainability is the current buzzword in many different areas of society from agriculture to transport as the scale of the climate crisis is spelled out at COP26 in Glasgow. What exactly is meant by sustainability, sustainable development?
There are many definitions of sustainability. Below are two which I like:
…economic growth that will benefit present and future generations without detrimentally affecting the resources or biological systems of the planet.
…leaving the world a better place than you found it, taking no more than you need, trying not to harm life or the environment and making amends if you do.
The term sustainable development is a term which cannot have a single, simple and agreed meaning because it means different things to different people. The origin of the concept of sustainable development can be traced to the UN Commission on Environment and Development. Its report, Our Common Future (1987) called for a sustainable approach to development ‘which meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs’.
Achieving the goal of sustainable societies is the biggest global challenge for humanity and it requires us to make fundamental changes to how we live our lives. The barriers to achieving a sustainable lifestyle are a mix of external factors such as poverty and internal factors associated with the way we think. We have to change the way we think to change the way we act. There are choices open to us about how we spend the pound in our pocket and about the nature of the lifestyles we live.
Given the scale of the environment challenges facing mankind will my choices and actions make any difference? What can I do on a personal level? To quote Sydney Smith (1771- 1845) ‘It is the greatest of mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little’.