Anne Behan (1959-2004) was a native of Kildare and studied for her doctorate in Zoology at UCD. She worked as an independent environmental consultant from her home at Redhills, Kildare. Her consultancy work involved environmental impact, wildlife and landscape assessments, surveys and many community-related projects.
Anne believed that the environment belongs to everyone but that a problem had been created in modern times because people have been removed from immediate contact with it. This, she believed, created difficulties when there was a decision to be made or a dispute to be resolved.
Anne’s life was dedicated to environmental awareness and education and to developing an integrated approach towards sustainable living in communion with all life. Her eco-tourism initiative, ‘The Hidden Wilds’, showed her that an association with the environment came naturally to people but that they were often denied the chance to build such a link by the pressures of modern life.
Anne was a keen wildlife and landscape photographer and used her photographs to illustrate the “hidden” environment which she used to good effect in her award-winning slide shows and in Environment Kildare a publication commissioned and funded by KELT, the Co. Kildare Leader company, and in her final piece of work Local Environment Ð Clonroche, Newbawn, Raheen, Co. Wexford, for County Wexford Partnership.
Anne’s words, ‘To understand any area, one must first look to the landscape because it is the land itself that shapes the plant and animal communities that live upon it, that determines the nature of soils and water flows and influences the lives of the human community’ capture her belief that for communities to flourish they must understand the landscape and environment that surrounds them. Only with such an understanding can local people make an informed input to the decisions that determine their future.
Anne believed in the capacity of all communities to forge a future for themselves and to ‘facilitate the development of vibrant, self-motivated and self-sustaining communities ….while celebrating difference and ensuring that adequate care is taken of vulnerable members of the community.’
While working in Wexford, Anne often used this quotation from Soil and Soul by Alastair McIntosh, a Scottish environmentalist, activist and philosopher: ‘It is when the capacity of a place to sustain itself becomes ruptured that the human mind is forced to reflect on ecology. Only then do most of us consider the interconnections between plants and animals and their environment.’
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