- What is biodiversity?
- Biodiversity – Working for us
- Biodiversity in County Clare
- Giving something back - What can I do?
- Contact information
Biodiversity is a scientific term with a long and technical definition aimed at academics and scientists.
For everyone else, biodiversity is about the variety of different species, the diversity within and between these species, and how they interact with their habitat and local environment. This not only includes wild flora and fauna, but also a farmer’s livestock, crops and fields, the family pet, the back garden, and us.
Biodiversity is not a stand alone entity, it’s linked to built heritage (think of barn owls, house martins or wall rue), cultural heritage (think of Fionn Mac Cumhaill and the salmon of knowledge or fairy hawthorn trees), and other environmental factors (lichens are used to measure air quality while invertebrates measure water quality).
The health of our environment is dependant on the health of our biodiversity, as each element is dependant upon, or responsible for another element. For example, it was Einstein who predicted that if the humble bumblebee became extinct, then the human race would follow in four short years, given that almost 90% of the world’s vegetation requires pollination, herbivores require vegetation, carnivores require herbivores, and so on.
Biodiversity isn’t just about conserving rare species and habitats for future generations, it’s about working in tandem with our environment for everyone’s benefit.
Biodiversity is vital for fresh air and clean water (think about trees removing carbon from the air).
Biodiversity is our source of food, whether it’s farmed (most meats, dairy, cereals, fruit and vegetables) or wild (fish, fruit, nuts and herbs). County Clare has many locally produced foods such as:
- Burren Beef and Lamb
- Mount Callan Farmhouse Cheese
- Linalla Farm Ice Cream
- Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese
- The Burren Smokehouse
- Cratloe Hills Sheeps Cheese
Biodiversity provides medicines (penicillin) and natural remedies for many ailments.
Biodiversity is the basis for livelihoods such as farming, fishing and forestry (What would farmers do if they couldn’t grow grass?).
It is also the basis for tourism and recreation (why do so many people visit the Burren each year, and what would ferry operators in the Shannon Estuary do if there were no dolphins?).
Biodiversity also provides natural materials such as fuel and timber.
Biodiversity provides a beautiful countryside and inspiration (how many songs, stories and paintings feature animals, plants or habitats?).
Oliver Cromwell’s ultimatum to the Irish people, ‘To Hell or to Connaught’ included County Clare. The idea of trying to farm the open limestone landscape of the Burren in the north, the peatlands in the west or the Slieve Aughties in the east must have seemed a fate worse than death to Cromwell. We now know however, that by doing so, he inadvertently made us custodians of one of the most unique and beautiful parts of the world.
Clare is bursting at the seams with biodiversity, whether its orchid rich grasslands, lesser horseshoe bats, choughs, fens, estuaries, bluebells, pine martens, cuckoos, marsh fritillary butterflies, quaking grass, purple sea urchins, sand dunes, hen harriers, brimstone butterflies, wet woodlands, scarce emerald damselflies, spring gentians, carrageen, otters, turloughs, barn owls, starfish, Atlantic salmon, Ballyvaughan seedling apples, bee orchids or the many other habitats and species which adorn our landscape.
Buds of the Banner - a guide to growing native trees and shrubs in Clare
This publication is a partnership project between Rural Resource Development and Clare County Council and it has been initiated as an education and awareness measure to encourage and assist the public. This practical guide provides information on the great variety of trees and shrubs that are native to County Clare. You can choose for colour, shape, height and wildlife value, and to suit your soil and site conditions. This step-by-step guide will also show you where and how to plant your native trees and shrubs, including some great design ideas for the garden. Most importantly, it provides practical ideas for making your garden, village or housing development more attractive and nature friendly by planting native buds.
The Living Farmland - a guide to farming with nature in Clare
This publication is a joint initiative between Rural Resource Development, Leader Group in County Clare, Clare IFA, Teagasc and Clare County Council. It is primarily intended as a practical guide to farming with nature in Clare. The aim was to produce a publication for farmers that would be a valuable reference work providing simple advice on nature conservation and protection of important habitats in the context of practical farming. The publication includes eight profiles of Clare farmers who tell the story of how they have successfully incorporated environmental management into their farming enterprises in ways that will inspire others.
Unlike climate change, biodiversity is tangible, and the effort you put in can be seen at a local level (think about planting a flower), so roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty!!
Biodiversity does not require erecting a fence and a ‘do not touch’ sign. In fact, the opposite is often true, such as the case in the Burren where active management is helping to conserve the landscape.
Simply enjoying biodiversity adds value to it, while biodiversity which has links to local history and culture is even more valuable, particularly to local communities. Recognizing and recording the role played by biodiversity in local history is therefore an important aid to biodiversity conservation.
The relationships between a single species and other species in their habitat have evolved over millennia to become interdependent. The introduction of new species requires beginning from scratch in order to create similar relationships, therefore, always choose native species and avoid releasing exotic or non-native species into the wild.
How often have we cleared large tracts of habitats, only to try and replace them with the same in the new landscape plan? Where possible, retain existing habitats in our gardens, development sites and farms. Avoid cutting hedgerows between March 1st and August 31st as this is the prime breeding season for birds.
‘Neat and Tidy’ is rarely good for biodiversity. Where possible, manage lawns and grassy areas as traditional hay meadows, mowing only once a year in late summer and avoiding all chemicals. Even doing this around edges and in corners will encourage wild flowers, butterflies and insects, birds and other small mammals such as hedgehogs. Remember, what we often consider to be weeds can be important for biodiversity, such as nettles (Several species of butterflies) and knapweed (Around 14 different invertebrates).
Feed the birds!! Bird feeders can be the difference between life and death during harsh winters and in return provide plenty of colour and song, while nest boxes for both birds and bats provide invaluable refuge for breeding.
Clare Biodiversity Officer,
Clare County Council,
Áras Contae an Chláir,
Telephone: (065) 6846499
Clare Heritage Officer,
Clare County Council,
Áras Contae an Chláir,
Telephone: (065) 6846408
Page last updated: 16/03/10