Urban flooding: one of the causes is that we have covered huge areas with a hard shell of stone, concrete and asphalt. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The metaphors we use so casually in our daily conversations often reveal more than we realise. They also influence how we try to solve problems(...)

A natural: Gordon D’Arcy

‘The one that really fascinated me was the turnstone. It was really cool the way it actually turns stones over, looking for sandhoppers and – what are(...)

Take your pick: the seeds of the cacao fruit, which are made into cocao. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty

I’ve been known to grouch that some children today think milk comes from Tetra Paks, not cows. And indeed, the increasing disconnect between urban cul(...)

Fly-through: one of the Copper Coast films shows the blues of secondary copper mineralisation, said to be the most vivid and extensive in the world. Photograph: Deri Jones/DJA

Everything we do, everywhere we stand and, ultimately, everything we eat is based on rocks, but most of us know very little about them. Very few of us(...)

Photograph: Hans Visser

There is something delightful, but somehow also unlikely, about seeing Highland cattle in any circumstances. Their exuberant manes of russet hair and (...)

Eye spy: long-eared owl chicks, whose  distinctive calls, demanding food from their parents in late summer, helped recorders find and count them. Photograph: Chris Bale
My zoo in the air

One of my earliest memories is of building a zoo. My father and brother were building a bedroom for my sister. I could barely walk, but I filched disc(...)

Mary Robinson: “The science is unequivocal – climate change is happening now and will continue over the decades and centuries to come.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

The relationship between extreme weather events, climate change and global conservations is discussed in a new book launched in Dublin last night by f(...)

Autumn glory: leaves clinging to the trees  at Killiney  Co Dublin, in mid-November. Photograph: Eric Luke

You’d think it should be quite easy to recognise tree species. Unlike many plants, trees are big and obvious. Unlike birds and mammals, they don’t fly(...)

Nitrogen rich: spreading slurry. Photograph: Getty Images

It’s good to know that Ireland is not always in the EU’s environmental doghouse. Our national ceiling for ammonia emissions in the atmosphere is 116 k(...)

Spreading their wings: herons in Palo Verde, in Costa Rica, part of the national-park system that the environmentalist Alvaro Ugalde helped to found. Photograph: Mayela Lopez/AFP/Getty

The Society for Ecological Restoration was founded in California, in 1989, by a few dozen Americans and Canadians. They believed that damaged landscap(...)