UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration – What can we do locally?

Caterpillars on Nettles - Bratóg ar Neantóg
Common or Smooth Newt - Earc Coiteann nó Luachra
On the 5th June this year, the United Nations launched the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 2021 – 2031.  This has been given the priority it deserves as it is vital that we must immediately protect the habitats and ecosystems we have left and restore them on a large scale everywhere.
You might ask what biodiversity & ecosystems do for us?  Biodiversity is the very life support system on our planet earth.  Biodiversity gives us the air we need to breathe, soil to grow food and other plants, water for all life and the filtration systems to clean it, nutrient recycling, flood defenses, holds viruses and other diseases in situ, gives protection from extreme weather events, gives beauty and inspiration, spiritual connection, culture and so much more…..
In Ireland, these ecosystems and habitats include  our precious trees, woodlands, thickets, forests, hedgerows, soils, meadows and grasslands, waterways,  wetlands, bogland, uplands, seas, oceans, air and the sky above us.
This seems so big, it can feel overwhelming – What can I do to make a difference? 
Start by getting to know the nature that is on your doorstep, in your community, in your local habitat.  Change our minds about what is a ‘weed’ and what looks wild or messy  Change the language we use in relation to plants and habitats.  Who decides what is beautiful?  
Start to think like creatures and plants and see the world from their perspective, particularly in the concrete jungles and farmland deserts.  How can they travel around, get food and water and find their mates and keep their family safe?  They have the same needs as we do!
Switch on our plant eyes, as  ‘#plantblindness’ is very common, with very little knowledge of the names and value of the plants that are growing all around us.
Focus on protecting and restoring habitats in our own gardens and community. Create more natural habitats, by planting native trees, hedges, woodlands, ponds for wildlife.  
Connect these habitats together with #EcologicalCorridors.  
Plant for wildlife and always have three reasons for every plant choice you make. Grow some herbs, fruit, food. Learn how to make compost. Learn how to mulch (we will come back to this!).  When we are gardening ecologically or organically, our job is to help make soil and let the plants grow themselves; then the insects and the creatures will come and the web of life thrives.
Buy less stuff and when you are buying stuff, make sure that it is necessary and ethically sourced.  There is a hidden cost when thing are cheap and it usually nature that is being exploited.
We will come back to this theme as it is ongoing work and evolving adventure ….

Actions for Insects & Pollinators – Rudaí le déanamh do na Feithidí & na Pailneoirí

Saithe Beach Mheala - Swarm of Honey Bees @ Gortbreac
Lus na Cré - Speedwell - meaning Herb of the Soil as Gaeilge

How can you help pollinators in your own garden or green space?  

There are many ACTIONS FOR INSECTS & POLLINATORS that you can take.  We must understand that every insect has a relationship with a flower/plant and every plant has a relationship with an insect, pollinator or wild creature.  Us creatures are like a mirror image of plants, so together we make a whole ecological system…..

Here are some ideas below:

  – Change your own mind about what is a ‘weed’, as they are usually our most valuable wild plants and medicines

 – Change your own mind about what is ‘messy and overgrown – choose to see it as a wildlife refuge and sanctuary.  Make a sign if you want to: https://wearetheark.org 

 – Create various habitats, such as native hedges, small woodlands, food & herb garden, wildlife ponds, compost heaps, wildflower lawns and meadows, stones walls, embankments

 – Choose to plant native plants, eg. Red Campion and trees, such as Elder and Hawthorn (there are many more!)

 – Do not use any chemicals, use home made tonics and teas instead.  Vinegar if you really need something – but make sure it is diluted

 – Let wild flowers and grasses grow – let a patch of nettles, bramble and ivy grow

 – Mow your playing areas and pathways regularly – mow the rest of the areas less often.  Experiment – there is no one formula!

 – Mulch plants to create soil and soil habitat – I will come back to this topic as it deserves a full blog!

 – Put logs and twigs around the base of trees, shrubs, bushes and hedges.  This creates log pile habitats, so vital for many of these insects in their different less-obvious life phases, eg. some beetle larvae stay in dead wood for 7 years before they emerge! 

Visit these following website for further information:


Hawthorn Sceach Gheal

Celebrate Biodiversity Week 2021 – Céilúradh an Nádúr 2021

This week is National Biodiversity Week and the 22nd May is International Biodiversity Day.  This is a beautiful video from the Heritage Council which celebrates biodiversity in Ireland:  https://www.rte.ie/learn/2021/0517/1222195-biodiversity-film-heritage-council/

Nature Walks:  Get to know your own biodiversity in your own garden or where you walk.  It may be the common Daisy or Speedwell which we often overlook, but our common wild plants are all vital food for pollinators and other creatures.  At the moment, the Hawthorn Tree is in full bloom and lives up to her name as Gaeilge, An Sceach Gheal which means the bright or light bush!  

Also, you might find this series of 6 lovely spotter sheets useful.  They highlight the plants and animals you are likely to find in various habitats we have here in Kerry.  They have been produced by Kerry County Council and are available free to download from their website at this link: https://www.kerryheritage.ie/biodiversity/

The habitats include: Urban Gardens; Farmland; Bogs and Uplands; River, Lakes and Wetlands; Seashore & Coastal; Woodlands & Hedges.  I am attaching the Urban Gardens sheet below, but check out their website to access the full series in PDF format to download.  Bain taitneamh as bhur am amach faoín aer – enjoy your time out on your nature walks, just remember it is all the more comfortable if you are wearing your rain gear!

Nature News /
Nuacht ón Nádúr

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