Malcolm Noonan, Minister of State for Heritage & Electoral Reform is urging people all over Ireland to #LoveNature, in person and online, as National Biodiversity Week begins.
Running from Saturday May 15, to Sunday May 23 Biodiversity Week gives everyone in Ireland the chance to explore the rich variety of natural life in Ireland, interact with experts and find out more about the natural world around them and also the biodiversity and conservation work of the National Parks & Wildlife Service and its partners.
Encouraging everyone to get outdoors and enjoy nature, Minister Noonan said:
“This National Biodiversity Week, let’s all take some time to get away from screens and go outside – look up at the sky and notice the birds, look down at the soil and notice the insects, look around at the sheer variety of life and take a moment to really appreciate how amazing it all is.
“You don’t need to know the names of the different species or anything about their lives to know that nature is wonderful. It’s about noticing it, being inspired by it, cherishing it and valuing it for its own sake. And that’s something everyone can do, no matter who they are, where they live or what they’re interested in. Nature is our heritage – it’s for all of us. So let’s get out there and enjoy it.”
As Covid restrictions ease, the #LoveNature campaign aims to mark the week by raising awareness of Ireland’s biodiversity and nature conservation by promoting public engagement through digital resources and, where possible, in person.
Over the past year, since the Covid-19 pandemic began, families, groups and bubbles of friends across the country have been re-discovering nature, and practical advice coming from the Department during the week – from helping pollinating bees to understanding more about peatlands – will focus our minds on why biodiversity is so crucial.
Acknowledging the connection many people forged with nature during the pandemic, Minister Noonan said:
“The past year has shown us just how important it is to connect with the natural world and what that can do for us in terms of solace, a sense of peace and wonder, as well as our physical health. Now that public health restrictions allow us to travel beyond our counties, we can experience the ecosystems we haven’t for a while – out to the coast, or inland to a raised bog or woodland, or up into the mountains. Wherever you go, the diversity and variety of life is all around you. Let’s celebrate that this week.”
The National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage is at the forefront of many events this week. On their behalf, we will be announcing details of some exciting new projects, including a first-of-its-kind peatland restoration project and a major marine scientific programme. The NPWS will also be giving a behind-the-scenes look at some of its initiatives, including: a wader protection scheme, sea bird conservation projects, the reintroduction of the white-tailed eagle, toad breeding, and more besides. There will be a look at the work of LIFE projects on blanket bogs and raised bogs, and Corncrake LIFE, which is working with farmers to improve habitat for corncrakes. Many other conservation stories across the country also will be highlighted. We will be revealing details of the National Chough Survey, Local Authority Biodiversity Grants scheme and taking a look at the work of the education centres at Ireland’s six National Parks and the work of our dedicated guides and rangers to raise awareness of biodiversity.
There are a number of landmark days throughout the week, including ‘World Bee Day’ on Thursday May 20th, ‘Natura 2000 Day’ on Friday May 21st and the UN International Day for Biological Diversity on Saturday May 22nd.
Online, the public will be invited to share their knowledge and love of nature and biodiversity through posting online using the hashtag #LoveNature. They will be able to tap into expert knowledge from the National Parks & Wildlife Service, the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the Heritage Council, and many others including Local Authority Heritage Officers and Local Authority Biodiversity Officers, who will help identify flora, fauna and anything that tickles one’s fancy as they explore the natural world around them. Between May 21 and 23, ecologists and wildlife experts from the Irish Wildlife Trust, Irish Peatland Conservation Council and Native Woodland Trust will be on hand to ID finds on Twitter or Instagram with the #BackyardBioblitz hashtag, and throughout the week the Irish Environmental Network will be working hard ensuring awareness of this important week.
If you visit www.biodiversityweek.ie you will find details of events and initiatives, including a photography competition, now open to all amateur photographers. There is also details on how to run Backyard Bioblitzes, Scavenger Hunts and more besides.
With the gradual lifting of Covid restrictions, there are some outdoor public events (with limited numbers and pre-booking) taking place this year, including raised bog walks on Clara Bog, plus events at our six National Parks. Details will be posted on Department and on Biodiversity Week social media.
Minister of State for Heritage Malcom Noonan recently launched the 2nd All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, so look out for a special edition of the Irish Examiner on May 20th celebrating World Bee Day and Biodiversity in Ireland.