Helping Biodiversity & Nature
There are many ways in which we can have a positive impact on our local environment, either as individuals in our gardens and immediate neighbourhood, or as part of a community effort. This "community" may be local to you or it may be a group of like minded people from further afield working towards a common goal. Whatever Community you may find yourself in, it can be a very enriching experience to give back in some way and get involved.
How can you or your community help Biodiversity & Nature?
Help the Bees and Pollinating Insects - Pledge your garden, patio, balcony, or local green space for pollinators
Pledge a portion of your outdoor space for pollinators. Find lots of handy and simple ideas in this useful 4 page brochure Pledge Your Garden For Pollinators.
Use www.pollinators.ie to find ways to plant for pollinating insects in your garden or community.
Plant local and native plants, flowers, trees and vegetables
Our wildlife has adapted to local ecosystems over time. So planting native species will help protect them and support a thriving, healthy, population and variety of plants and wildlife in Ireland.
Wondering how to get more trees and pollinator friendly flowers planted in your community? Good question! Here are some tips:
Ask your local council to do it.
Every council in Ireland will have objectives to meet in terms of biodiversity, climate action and nature. Check out your county Biodiversity Plan and establish what their objectives are under the current plan. Use this information to push for more planting in your own area.
Review government report "Woodland Creation on Public Lands Scheme" for more details of the governments intentions when it comes to tree planting by public bodies on their lands. This applies to Government Departments and State Sponsored Organisations; Higher Education Authorities; and Local Authorities so they all have a mandate to plant more woodland at this point.
Remember that our county councils are always busy and pulled in many directions. It is up to us to bring attention back to these important matters which may be overlooked at times.
Maybe you want to do some Community Group tree planting - here are some tips:
Identify a site
Review where space exists in your community for more trees, a pocket forest or small woodland. This may be your public park, grounds of the church, shopping centre, hospital, school grounds or local business park for example.
Establish who owns the land and get permission
Public spaces in our communities may be owned by our local council, controlled by housing development management companies or in private ownership for example. A good move is to speak to your local councillor for their help to identify who owns the land earmarked for planting. They may be interested in assisting your contact with the owner, gaining permission and also helping to identify funding which may be available to your community group for the tree planting activity.
Don't reinvent the wheel
Trees: Link in with established and experienced tree planting groups like Easytreesie, Crann.ie or Reforest Nation for support to your community. Pocket Forests are also a wonderful idea for small spaces and this Irish initiative is well worth looking into. They will help you carry out a local tree survey and identify the best trees to plant in the location.
Flower planting: Find good advice for staring a wildflower meadow from Pollinator.ie. A top tip is to always start small - learn from doing and keep in mind the meadow needs tending to. So, don't bite off too much in the first year!
Tidy Towns Advice: Find good general advice for planting from this Tidy Towns Green Spaces and Landscaping leaflet. There is good advice here for choosing sites and practicalities.
Review suitability of the site
Local land needs to be accessed for suitability, taking into account issues like safety, sightlines, utility services, power lines above and below ground and more. So, take the time to utilise available supports from your local council and tree planting organisations for the best outcomes. For larger projects, a forester may be useful in advising on how best to achieve your aim.
Make it a community thing!
Publicize and heavily promote your planned activity through local social media channels, community groups, notice boards, school networks etc to get the community behind your efforts. Everyone needs to know what you are doing, why you are doing it, how it will benefit their community and also how it will benefit them personally in terms of health, wellbeing and climate action. Don't worry, this is not bragging! It's more about spreading good news and feeling in your community, building a sense of connection. Then make sure to celebrate your successes along the way too.
Consider starting a community garden. Community Gardens are a great social outlet, promote nature, are a helpful climate action and are a wonderful source of food for pollinators. Find details at Community Gardens In Ireland.
Grow It Yourself (GIY) is another useful source of information and support for communities setting up new Community Gardens. You may also access funding, through GIY and Energia, for community growing projects with GIY.
Chose chemical free pest control and peat free composts
Chemical Pesticides: Many of our insect populations are under tremendous pressure due to the subtle impacts of climate change on their world(Biodiversity Ireland Data). Limiting chemical pesticides ourselves will give them a better chance to thrive into the future. Again, use your county Biodiversity Plan as support to ensure pesticides are not being used unnecessarily by council workers.
Bog & Peatlands: Our bog lands are a vital habitat for many Irish flora and fauna species, as well as being a hugely important carbon sink which will help us clean up our atmosphere over time. Upland bogs can also add to our natural flood defense by slowing down upland rainwater runoff, as well as being a store for vast amounts of fresh water. Using Peat Free compost will reduce the impact of commerce on these vulnerable places over time.
Embrace the Rewild
Leave areas in your garden or local green spaces for nature to thrive on it's own. This will provide valuable habitat for local wildlife and insects, food for pollinators, and restore greater variety of flora and fauna in our towns, cities and gardens.
Having a few "unkept" areas in your garden is also a nature booster. A pile of logs, old stones, piles of leaves, old tree cuttings and branches are all important ways in which we can support nature in our own garden spaces. Also, letting more plants die off and decompose naturally over winter, without cutting back, leaves valuable food and shelter for tiny insect life to enjoy in the harsh winter months.
Reduce lawn cutting to let flowers provide food for pollinating insects.
As we travel the byroads, national roads and motorways these days, you may become aware of more abundant natural flowers and long grasses on roadside verges. Many county councils have biodiversity plans which promote letting early spring flowers like Dandelions grow for our bees and pollinators, as well as reduced grass cutting and chemical pesticide policies. This is all good news for our insects and wildlife.
We can help this project at home by following this approach too. Consider reducing the frequency of your lawn cutting so as to leave time for flowers to grow and insects to take their share. Longer grass also provides an urban jungle which acts as a safe haven for smaller insect life. This is one of the most simple, yet effective, ways we can give Nature the space it needs to thrive.
Protect Natural Habitats
Human impact on the earth can have a devastating impact on biodiversity. Small steps like keeping to walking paths, and not stepping through flowers or crops, can help protect what is growing there.
Experience nature on your doorstep
Getting active outdoors is simple, fun, FREE and good for your health. Nature Days Ireland has an Activity Finder crammed full of fun outdoor activities to get you loving nature and keep everyone interested while outdoors.
Help in a wildlife Survey
Typically, with no experience needed, you can help track Ireland's flora and fauna for Biodiversity Ireland as they take the pulse of our nations biodiversity. Find the link to be a Citizen Scientist for Biodiversity Ireland here.
Buy and grow biodiversity-friendly food
Growing food needs biodiversity – from the insects that pollinate the crops to clean water and healthy soil. Buy local and in season when you can. Find a fantastic Irish Seasonal Food Calendar produced by Stop Food watse.ie here.
Make space for Nature
Making space for Nature in our lives: Reconnecting with nature is a scientifically proven way to boost our health & wellbeing and also a powerful way to protect our valuable flora and fauna in Ireland. If we don't notice nature, we are much less likely to want to protect it. So taking an interest in nature will help us all look out for it a little more in daily life. Find Nature Days Tip for connecting with Nature here. You'll find more great hands on ideas from NatureScot too.
Making space and giving access to Nature in the community: Giving our community a chance to access Nature is also hugely valuable. Creating spaces where people can sit, or walk through, Nature in our community connects them with Nature in a more tactile way. For this reason, creating these spaces are an important climate action as a community. These pockets of peace, surrounded by Nature, in our communities have powerful health & wellbeing benefits. They nurture our nature connection and it is this nature connection which increases an individuals willingness to act in ways which protect nature and the environment. Drawing attention to these places, where we can sit quietly in our community listening to birds, watching wildlife, smelling scents or gently touching a variety of textures, creates value for them amongst the general public and also value for the work community groups do in general.
Help out with tree planting projects, Tidy Towns Groups, Clean Up's, Gardening projects or conservation projects using Volunteer.ie
Reduce Reuse Recycle
Pollution has devastating impacts on our nature, wildlife, water sources and the food chain itself. Recycling lessens pollution by decreasing energy, electricity, and water consumption and the need for landfills. Not only can you recycle bottles and cans, but your local recycling center will usually allow you to recycle clothes, electrical goods and batteries.
Farmers play a key role in conserving biodiversity.
With the help of biotechnology and plant science, farmers can grow more food on the same amount of land. This takes the pressure off the need to convert natural habitats into farmland. But this will take time to evolve and farmers will need our full support as they transition to new working practices.
More Useful Information
Walking Bus - How to start a walking bus in your community
Get Ireland Cycling - Find ways to campaign for more cycle lanes in local communities in Ireland
"We're acting and thinking globally" Tidy Towns do so much more than pick litter Irish Examiner Article