Mary Catherine Gallagher, an ecologist with Wetland Surveys Ireland, demonstrating the absorbent properties of sphagnum moss, in her presentation on Longford's wetlands
We recently celebrated National Biodiversity Week, highlighting our dependence on biodiversity on multiple aspects of our daily lives.
The week was marked with a series of events and presentations in the media and online.
In County Longford, a short video on aspects of natural heritage, from Arctic Char in Lough Naback to the human impact of climate change, were created by local groups and individuals, hosted on the Longford Heritage & Archives Services Facebook page.
Biodiversity or nature is all about us. Everything we rely on is provided by nature. Biodiversity is the variety of life on the planet, how it interacts with the natural water cycles and climate to create ecosystems that provide habitats, and ecosystem goods and services.
Goods like timber, healthy soil, raw materials for clothing, food, medicines – everything. Services like carbon sequestration, water filtration, pollination.
The theme for International Biodiversity Day this year was “We are part of the solution for Nature”. There are some simple switches that can be made that will set us on that pathway. Always the best place to start is where we can have the most influence, and for most of us that is our own homes and gardens.
Biodiversity Week provides the ideal opportunity to take the first step in reconnecting with nature and beginning to help protect our environment.
Here are ten simple switches you can make for nature right now:
1. Switch peat moss or compost with peat for peat-free compost. Or make your own compost. This will help protect our valuable bogs, which are vital for carbon capture and nature. There is good advice on this on www.longfordcoco.ie.
2. Mow your lawn less often. Leave an extra margin around the edge of your lawn and cut it every 3-6 weeks, to provide shelter and food for pollinators. #NoMowMay
3. Switch using tap water in your watering can to collecting rainwater in a water butt. This is a great way of conserving reuse water and being more economical with treated water.
4. Switch plants in pots for plants in the ground, choosing ones that are good for pollinators too. These need less watering and it’s a win-win for nature.
5. Switch pesticides for natural pest control and companion planting. (For example, the carrot fly is distracted by the smell of rosemary and thyme, or try planting marigolds and lady’s mantle close to tomatoes, and nasturtium beside broad beans). Encourage ladybirds to your garden to eat greenfly.
6. Switch chemical fertiliser for nettle or comfrey fertiliser. This is made by soaking the plants in water for a few weeks and then diluting the resultant liquid with water. Areas of nettles and comfrey are super for pollinators – bees and butterflies, so a patch has additional biodiversity benefits. There is a tutorial on this on the Longford Library, Heritage & Archives Service YouTube channel.
7. Switch cutting hedges at waist height to letting hawthorn hedges grow tall and blossom. This is vital for pollinators, will be more effective for privacy and will bring a wonderful sight and smell to your garden.
8. Switch tidying up to building a log pile. These are great spots for hedgehogs, bugs and beetles. The garden is not a place for Marie Kondo’s house tidying approach!
9. Plant a wider variety of plants, and try to favour native Irish and European species. This will protect your garden from being overrun with any one pest or disease and bring more wildlife to your place.
10. Switch social distance for getting out into nature. Remember to not pick wildflowers and Leave No Trace.
The popular Gardening For Biodiversity booklet is still available, along with a Pledge your Garden for Pollinators leaflet. These wonderful publications are full of fantastic ideas for your garden.
Contact the Longford Heritage Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (043) 3341124 to get your own copy.
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