In 2006, our family moved to a small island in the Adriatic, one of the Elafiti islands near Dubrovnik. We were there working on one of my favorite of all our projects. There was a young man who did sea kayaking guiding for our guests; he was from the USA for one year doing this work and learning Croatian because of family heritage. Years later we reconnected and I learned that he had become the leader of this amazing conservation organization, so I follow their work. And today I was rewarded with some news that made me smile (video from an earlier Save The Waves post from 1+ year ago is worth another watch):
(March 18th, 2020) After more than four years of campaigning and fighting to save beloved Doughmore Beach in Ireland, the #NatureTrumpsWalls campaign and coalition has succeeded in stopping the construction of major seawalls that would have led to catastrophic impacts to the coast.
Trump International Golf Links (TIGL) had submitted a plan to place hard armoring on the natural coastal dunes of Doonbeg that provide sediment for the surf ecosystem and breaking waves, as well as natural coastal protection from climate change.
On March 12th, Ireland’s national planning appeal board, An Bord Pleanála, formally rejected the plan, citing the concerns submitted by the coalition about the adverse impacts to the dune ecosystem.
“What was most rewarding was that the Appeals Board followed the scientific advice and set a precedent that will help to protect the long term natural evolution of all of Ireland’s remaining great sand dune systems against even the most powerful development interests,” said Tony Lowes, Director of Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE).
This is a momentous victory for the coastline of Ireland and the local community in Clare County as the Carrowmore Dune ecosystem will continue to protect Doughmore Beach and provide essential ecosystem services, as it has for thousands of years.
In 2016, at the invitation of local community organizations, Save The Waves helped form a strong coalition to defeat the original proposal for a 2.8 kilometers, 15 foot tall, 200K ton seawall. The #NatureTrumpsWalls campaign was then launched to raise international awareness and incite action, leading to 100K petition signatures on Change.org and the signing of over 700 letters of objection.
Over the years, the proposal has been altered and resubmitted by TIGL, fought against each time by the coalition, and accepted and appealed through Ireland’s court system. But today marks the official defeat of the project.
The incredible groups who led to this historic win include Friends of the Irish Environment, Save Doughmore, West Coast Surf Club, The Irish Surfing Association, Surfrider Europe, Irish Seal Sanctuary, and Surfers Against Sewage.
This victory shows that the path to coastal protection is often long and arduous, but a strong grassroots coalition armored with good science, passionate individuals, and persistence can lead to massive wins for our surf ecosystems.