The turn of the tide was a moment of considerable significance for those who made their
livelihood along our coasts or at sea and even up the tidal reaches of our rivers. I recollect on
many a beach finding it impossible to pinpoint the exact time that the tide turned, because
once you observed that the tide had begun to recede or advance, the turn had already taken

So it is with turning points in any process, and it is only now, many months later, with the
benefit of hindsight that I realise that the fourth National Landscape Forum marked a
significant turning point in the lifetime of the Landscape Policy Initiative.

Reading through the proceedings in this publication it will be obvious that by September 1998
the landscape way of considering both natural and cultural issues within our greater
environment was no longer a novelty. It had begun to become the accepted way forward.

This is evident from the fact that the Forum attracted close on sixty speakers from every part
of Ireland and beyond, that it embraced an extensive and diverse exhibition, that it witnessed
politicians from a range of political parties, speaking with a common concern for the quality
of our landscape. We witnessed also the promised Heritage Plan from the Department of
Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, the Heritage Council plans for a major conference
on Ireland's landscape as a precursor to a major landscape policy document and the
publication of the report on Landscape Alliance Ireland's Survey on Landscape Policy - The
Legislative Framework.

As we now move forward towards a period when we must convert aspirations into policies,
strategies and action on the ground, there are new challenges, challenges particularly with
regard to awareness building.

The difficulties involved are touched on in the quotations from Barry Lopez inside the front
cover and that from William F. Wakeman on the page preceding this preface.

Doors are very symbolic in our lives, redolent of retreat and defence when we close them
against the trials and tribulations of the outside world, but equally symbolic of courage and
vision as we throw them open to awaken all our senses to the wonders of our landscape, after
all as our title sub-text says Landscape is how you sense it!

The diversity and quality of the papers presented over the three days of the Forum, which are
now available to an even wider audience through the medium of this book, gently and
effectively stimulate and inform our awareness of different layers of our millefeuille
landscape, built up over thousands of years as the result of the interaction of nature and

One of the most exciting concepts to emerge at the '98 Forum was that of landscape-
proofing all legislation, as proposed by Eamonn Gilmore T.D. To do this effectively we
require more than ever to formulate and implement a comprehensive integrated landscape
policy and its associated strategies founded on a deep knowledge of our natural and cultural

'The Turning Point' puts in place some sixty building blocks in the process of achieving this
brave objective, sensitising society to their surroundings, in a simple recognition of the
fundamental fact that "landscape touches everyone and everyone touches landscape".

Terry O'Regan