May 18th, 2018
National Biodiversity Week is set to kick off this weekend to draw attention to Ireland’s diverse species and natural habitats and their role in maintaining a healthy environment and economy.
Organised by the Irish Environmental Network (IEN) and supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. over fifty free events will take place across the country over the course of nine days.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of plant and animal life on Earth and the relationships between them.
From the dawn chorus to bat walks at dusk, every day of the week will be packed with free activities and events across Ireland to entertain the whole family.
The week is all about encouraging people to go outdoors, connect with nature and celebrate the extraordinary variety of flora, fauna and habitats right on our doorsteps, according to Michael Ewing.
The Coordinator of the IEN said that Biodiversity is essential for sustaining the ecosystems that provide us with food, clean water, health, wealth, and other services we take for granted in our everyday life.
He said that National Biodiversity Week is a “great opportunity” to get out and explore the natural world around us and learn about how we can “help to ensure the survival of our wildlife” for future generations.
“It is all about connecting people with nature. It’s about communicating the importance of biodiversity and motivating people to play their part in protecting it,” he added.
Rich Biodiversity at Abbeyleix Bog
The week will kick off with a unique tour of in Abbeyleix Bog, Co Laois on 19 May 2018 led by leading environmental broadcasters, Éanna Ní Lamhna (Mooney Goes Wild) and Anja Murray (Eco Eye).
Over 550 species are recorded on the bog, including now rare species such as the Hen Harrier, Curlew, Short-Eared Owl and Red Squirrels.
Following years of hard work to protect the Bog by the volunteer-led Abbeyleix Bog Project (ABP), a 50-year lease was signed with Bord Na Móna in 2010 to give the land to the community to manage the conservation of the Bog.
Today ABP manages the Bog as an open access amenity, and coordinates with academics, researchers, conservation charities, and local groups to protect the diverse species on the Bog.
For example, Groundwork is currently working to control the impact of rhododendron on bog biodiversity, while Denise O’Meara of Waterford Institute of Technology is working with Portlaoise Men’s Shed to support the Bog’s pine marten population.
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin are also involved in an ongoing project to better understand bog hydrology and the bog’s value as a carbon sink.
“The Abbeyleix Bog Project has proven the importance of community involvement in the protection and maintenance of our biodiversity through habitat conservation,” said Chris Uys of the project’s technical advisory group.
“Community-led conservation can only be successful within a multi-disciplinary and multilevel stakeholder conservation effort. Government policy and legislation should enable or make this model possible
“Environmental NGOs and other agencies should help to build the capacity and knowledge, whilst community groups should benefit directly from conservation efforts.”
International Day for Biological Diversity
Biodiversity Week also coincides with the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22 May 2018, which will celebrate 25 years since the UN Convention on Biological Diversity came into force.
Stressing the importance of protecting biodiversity is more important now than ever with a new three-year international study stressing that biodiversity is declining in every region of the world, impacting nature’s capacity to provide food, water, and safety to people.
In Ireland, the latest National Biodiversity Indicators report found that more action is needed if we are to meet our national, European and international conservation targets.
According to Kieran Flood of the Irish Wildlife Trust “protecting biodiversity means protecting ourselves” as a healthy biodiversity is “essential” for a healthy environment and economy.
“A simple example of the importance of biodiversity to us is the role of pollinators. These insects such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies pollinate our crops as part of their lifecycle and thus they help feed us,” he added.
“Biodiversity Week is a great opportunity to learn more about the wonderful biodiversity of Ireland from bats to bogs to bumblebees and it is a chance to meet some of the people striving to protect this natural resource.”