Celebrate Ireland’s National Biodiversity Week 2020

Ireland's Office of Public Works (OPW) is taking part in international efforts to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity

Ireland’s Office of Public Works (OPW) is taking part in international efforts to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity to all our lives and to showcase some of the important work taking place across its sites to halt the loss of biodiversity nationally.

Welcoming National Biodiversity Week 2020, Mr. Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Ireland’s Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief said: “Having a specific week for biodiversity helps to generate wide public interest and a better understanding of the issues at stake but taking care of our biodiversity is a year round project that requires strong policies and a state wide effort engaging all sectors of society. If we are able to halt the loss of biodiversity in Ireland we will be leaving a better future for our families and a more resilient country for everyone.

“I hope that the work done across the sector to engage with the public during this week will encourage everyone to think about what changes we can all make to protect the many different habitats across the country that are essential for biodiversity and for our own health and well-being.”

Some of these initiatives include a biodiversity audit of Áras an Uachtaráin; a conservation project for Swifts at OPW Heritage sites; the reintroduction of spawning gravels for the protection of salmon and trout habitats and the restoration of native plant communities right across the country.

Announcing details of a range of programmes running nationwide, as the country virtually celebrates National Biodiversity Week 2020, OPW Chairman, Maurice Buckley said: “The OPW is in a privileged position to play a key role in Ireland’s imminent and future biological diversity practises.  We are in the process of developing a Biodiversity Action Strategy 2020 – 2025, with input from a newly formed Biodiversity Working Group to ensure compliance with government policy but also to champion biodiversity and the dedicated staff that work to protect and promote it across our wide-ranging portfolio.”

The OPW operates at many levels with regard to biodiversity in Ireland, from devising national strategies at the Botanic Gardens, setting good practice standards and conducting public outreach and educational programmes, through to funding for biodiversity enhancement initiatives and services nationally, a range of which are as follows:

  • Biodiversity Audit of Áras an Uachtaráin and its grounds commissioned by President Michael D Higgins, which includes the monitoring of native Irish Badgers.
  • Development of national environmental guidance for river maintenance works to further reduce potential environmental impacts and maximise ecological gain.
  • Community outreach programmes like the Phoenix Park Biodiversity Festival and National Honey Show, to engage and educate on the importance of biodiversity.
  • A Swift nest site identification partnership with Birdwatch Ireland on historic properties to protect the species during essential conservation works (Liscarroll Castle, Co. Cork).
  • Planting native plants combined with hazel coppiced on the grounds of Brú na Bóinne, Co. Meath to mimic native wattle fences.
  • Development of land management practices to actively encourage traditional wildflower meadows for heritage sites like the Kilmacurragh Botanic Gardens, Co. Wicklow.
  • Establishing habitat enhancements procedures in flood defence embankments, including the construction of an artificial badger set at Lough Ree, Co. Westmeath.
  • Reintroducing spawning gravels into suitable drained rivers across the country from Co. Donegal to Co. Wexford, to improve salmon and trout spawning.
  • Erecting bat-boxes as part of river works, to assist bat conservation (Co. Monaghan).
  • Conservation of a rare breed of Kerry Cattle, while enhancing the traditional grassland in Doneraile Wildlife Park. Co. Cork.
  • In addition, a number of online initiatives will be made available throughout the week.

The nations’ awareness around biodiversity loss and the declining environmental condition of the planet is higher than ever before and last year Ireland became the second country in the world to declare a climate and biodiversity emergency. 85% of our protected habitats and 30% of protected species are at risk the OPW is committed to doing more to support the protection of Ireland’s biodiversity of flora and fauna.