Episode 123: MPA Management Plans with Amie Williams, David Stevenson and PJ Maguire

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A Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation is one of the most potent tools for protecting a wide range of marine habitats. A layman interested in marine conservation might think that an MPA would be completely excluded from any activities, either commercial or recreational. The reality is much more complex and, depending on what any given MPA is set to protect, a variety of activities can take place inside its boundaries. That’s why developing MPA management plans based on scientific evidence, as well as feedback from local communities, is critically important.

To discuss this important part of the MarPAMM project our guests today are Amie Williams, Project Officer at Argyll MPA Planning & Data at Scottish Natural Heritage, Dr David Stevenson, MPA Management Policy Officer for Northern Ireland and PJ Maguire, MPA Management Policy Officer for Ireland.
If you’re interested in this topic I would encourage you to check out other episodes of my podcast where we discuss various work packages of the MarPAMM project which is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme.

Episode 120: Seabed Habitat Mapping with Alex Callaway, Chris McGonigle, Andy Wheeler and Ger Summers

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Once again I have the pleasure to host scientists from the MarPAMM project. This time we discuss the Seabed Habitat Mapping and Modelling work package. Our guests are Dr Alex Callaway from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (who was our guest on episode 104), Dr Chris McGonigle from the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Professor Andy Wheeler, Chair of Geology, from the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences at University College Cork and Ger Summers also from the from University College Cork who is a PhD researcher in the MarPAMM project.

In our conversation, we discuss the importance of seabed mapping with a particular focus on so-called “species of interest”. We explore novel technologies and techniques that are being applied, such as autonomous underwater robots used for gathering data and the artificial intelligence models used for analysing it. We finish with my guests expressing their general views about the future of the oceans and our planet.

To learn more about the MarPAMM project visit their website or follow their Twitter feed.

MarPAMM is an INTERREG VA funded project.

Episode 115: Coexisting with Large Carnivores with John Linnell

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Large terrestrial carnivores, like wolves, bears and lynx, are the poster children for conservation and rewilding efforts. Also, they are usually right in the epicentre of the human-wildlife conflict which always sparks emotions. That makes it easy to use them to politicize conservation.

In many previous podcasts, our discussions about rewilding inevitably led us to talk about the issues surrounding large carnivores. But this episode is solely dedicated to our coexistence with these predators. And that’s because today’s guest is Dr John Linnell, who conducts interdisciplinary research on the interactions between humans and wildlife to mitigate conflict.

John works as a senior scientist at the Department of Terrestrial Ecology at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and as a professor at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management at the Inland Norway University of Applied Science.

Episode 113: Coastal Processes with Melanie ​​Biausque and Edoardo Grottoli

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If you are a sea angler or just like to walk your dog on the beach, you might have noticed how the coastline changes from year to year. Some of us who have frequented the same spots for years might even have noticed changes that have occurred over a greater time span. Sometimes up to decades.

Whether it is a channel in the sand that deepens each year after the winter storms or a soft sandy beach that becomes increasingly stony, these changes are driven by coastal processes. Understanding these might be important for angling and recreation. But it’s even more important for understanding the economic impact on, or even the very survival of, coastal communities.

To discuss this interesting and important topic I have welcomed two scientists from project MarPAMM which we introduced in episode 104. We had a fun and thought-provoking conversation from which you will learn about their work and the importance of coastal processes.

Episode 108: Communicating about Nature with Lucy McRobert

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Communication is by far the most important, yet most difficult, factor in any undertaking. Whether managing a business project with many stakeholders or leading a team to accomplish a goal, excellent communication is the key to success. It is no different in the world of conservation and nature-related endeavours. Anyone who has tried to communicate the benefits of hunting for conservation to uninformed people, with a distaste for killing animals, knows what I’m talking about! The complex and highly emotional world of social media doesn’t make communication any easier. But one thing is certain, if we want to find solutions to the problems faced by the natural world we need to communicate with each other to understand our visions, needs and concerns.

It is therefore my pleasure to bring you my conversation with a communications professional and wildlife storyteller Lucy McRobert. Lucy has worked on many campaigns for various environmental organizations and has a deep understanding of issues we might come across while discussing wildlife projects or the natural environment. Along with those topics, in our chat, she also shares with us some secrets of how social media works, including how to use it most effectively for communication while maintaining our own mental health and not playing into the hands of Internet trolls. You will also learn that you might be rejected for a job you wanted because of who followed you on social media! Yes, I know, it’s crazy!

I am sure that you will learn a lot from this episode and that you will improve the quality of your communication as well as gain new social media skills.

Episode 106: Irish Cave Bones with Ruth Carden

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Regular listeners have already heard that this episode was coming. And we’ve been planning it for a long time. Conflicting schedules, travel plans and life, in general, were always getting in the way. But boy, was it worth waiting for! 

And so, we sat down for a chat with Dr Ruth Carden, a zoologist, who specialises in the zooarchaeological analysis of faunal assemblages. To the casual reader, Ruth is probably best known for her groundbreaking discovery of butchering marks on a reindeer bone found in the Castlepook Cave in north Cork. This discovery dramatically changed our understanding of Irish human history, pushing back the earliest signs of human activity by 20,000 years. 

We discussed this discovery as well as other topics related to Ruth’s research, including Irish glacial fauna with a particular focus on the Giant Irish Deer which is sometimes, incorrectly, called Irish elk. I wouldn’t be myself if I hadn’t asked Ruth about wild boar in Ireland. Were they native to Ireland at one point in time? You need to listen to this episode to find out.

And here is the craziest thing. All that research work is self-funded by Ruth and done largely in her spare time. Please, keep an eye on Tommy’s Outdoors website as we will shortly let you know how you can financially support Ruth’s efforts. For now, I want to give a massive shout out to the car company that co-sponsored one of those projects: K&N Motors, Dublin 22. A big round of applause for these folks, please!

Episode 104: Project MarPAMM with Naomi Wilson, Anuschka Miller and Alex Callaway

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Conservation of the marine environment is prominently featured in many episodes of my podcast. Regular listeners have heard on many occasions the opinion that marine protected areas, or MPAs for short, is where it’s at. But as always in these cases, if you start digging and asking questions everything is more difficult than it looks at first glance.

To start the discussion about MPAs, today I bring you an introduction to an environmental project called MarPAMM. Our guests are Dr Naomi Wilson from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Dr Anuschka Miller from the Scottish Association of Marine Science, and Dr Alex Callaway from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. The goal of MarPAMM is to develop tools for monitoring and managing a number of protected coastal marine environments in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Western Scotland.

Episode 103: Hunter-Gatherers with Graeme Warren

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The term hunter-gatherers is often understood as a description of primitive people who live in an idyllic state of harmony with nature. In reality however, the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers is way more complex than most of us think.

To shed some light on this fascinating subject and to clarify some misconceptions I bring you my conversation with prof. Graeme Warren of the University College Dublin, School of Archaeology. Graeme is a specialist in the Archaeology of Hunter-Gatherers, the leader of the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group and a Vice-President of the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research.

During our conversation, we touched on many interesting topics. The impact of hunter-gatherers on their environment, modern-day hunter-gatherers, political implications of archaeology and many more.  We also touched on the often discussed topic of wild boar in Ireland.

Finally, if you want to delve deeper into the topic of hunter-gatherers you should check the website for the upcoming Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS13) by going to www.ucd.ie/chags13


For more on hunter-gatherers, follow Graeme on Twitter @GraemeMWarren; the UCD Hunter-Gatherer Research Group @HunterUCD; the Thirteenth International Conference on Hunter-Gatherers Societies @CHAGS131; and the International Society for Hunter-Gatherer Research @ISHGR5.

Episode 97: Human-Wildlife Conflict with Amy Dickman

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Dr Amy Dickman needs no introduction. She is well known and hugely respected in both academic and conservation communities. She’s a conservation biologist and works on resolving human-wildlife conflict on human-dominated landscapes. Amy is a Kaplan Senior Research Fellow in Wild Cat Conservation under Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. She is also the founder of The Ruaha Carnivore Project where she works closely with local communities to mitigate the conflict.

During our chat, we explore the difficult topic of human-wildlife conflict and some of the related ethical and scientific issues. As it turns out, not everything is clear-cut and some questions are difficult to answer. If you are interested in wildlife conservation you will find this fast-paced episode fascinating. And as a result, you might find yourself questioning your own opinions.

Episode 96: Blue Sharks with Simon Thomas

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My podcast listeners have heard, more than once, that there was a time when I was absolutely crazy about shark fishing. Among the many species of sharks present in my local waters, blue sharks (prionace glauca) have a special place in the hearts of sea anglers. These sharks are still relatively abundant and provide an opportunity to get a taste of true Big Game fishing without having to go on an expensive fishing holiday.

We already touched briefly on shark fishing during podcast number 41 with my friend, and a man with whom I did most of my shark fishing, Luke Aston. Today, however, we’re going all-in on blue shark fishing. Our guest is Dr Simon Thomas who is not only an expert angler but also works tirelessly on analysing scientific data related to blue sharks.

If you’re interested in marine biology or sharks or you’re just an angler who wants to learn more about shark-catching techniques, you will find this episode mighty interesting. No doubt!