Our Biodiversity Plan progresses

Our plan was always going to be about enhancing pollinator habitat throughout Skerries and still is. Despite all the setbacks and constraints of Covid we’ve managed to pull it together and a draft of the plan has now been sent to Fingal.

This is really important because Fingal are by far the biggest single landowner, having control of the open green spaces, road verges, parks and everything else. Without their support and agreement it would be very difficult to achieve anything at all. The document as sent is not only intended to demonstrate our intentions but also to open dialogue with the Council as to what we can all achieve together.

We very much look forward to working with them.

So what is the ethos of the plan?

Throughout the world we are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. Species are dying out and going extinct. Ireland is no exception. Much of this is because of the collapse of food chains. We cannot for instance expect to see insectivorous birds if there are no insects for them to feed on. By the same token we cannot have insects if their habitat has been destroyed. Pollinating insects are doubly important because, well, they’re pollinators.

By protecting and enhancing habitat at the bottom we support everything that exists further up the food chain.

What’s so important about a plan for Skerries?

Well, firstly it’s a town

That might not sound like much of an answer but the fact is that towns and urban areas now play a crucial role in the conservation of pollinating insects. The reason for this is that because of modern farming with its monoculture, herbicides and insecticides there is very little room in the countryside for insects. They are being both starved out and poisoned.

By contrast a town is full of back gardens and flowers; it is already a comparatively flower rich environment. Check for yourself this summer: take a walk around town taking note of what you see and then do a similar length walk round a 50 acre field of barley.

Some cultivated flowers are excellent for pollinators (see above!); others are useless, they’ve had all the pollen and nectar bred out of them. By choosing pollinator friendly flowers we can make a big difference. Revised mowing regimes have a big part to play by letting wildflowers bloom. Much of this applies to roadside verges, which is where agreement with FCC will come in.

All of the above could apply to any town in Ireland but where Skerries is different is that we have several residual populations of a threatened bumblebee, the Large Carder Bee. This puts us in a unique position to lead by example and make a real difference with an initiative to save a bee from extinction. Where we lead it is hoped that others will follow

OK, so how is this to be achieved?

Getting as many people as possible aboard with pollinator friendly gardens is hugely important but is not sufficient in itself.

In any conservation project involving fragmented populations of a species the key thing is to link them all together. As isolated pockets of individuals they are highly susceptible. If something changes in their immediate habitat and they can’t move on, they perish. Inbreeding, with all its attendant problems, is also a factor. The secret is to join these populations with ‘biodiversity corridors’. This is exactly what we intend to do.

Our Large Carder Bees are found on the South Strand, the Allotments, Ballast Pit and a small colony near the Educate Together School. The Barnageerah Road lends itself as a main artery and this is where Fingal will come in. This will directly join the Ballast Pit with our newly created wildflower meadow in the school grounds. A little further down the road Fingal themselves are due to sow another wildflower meadow this year. In the other direction, strategic planting in Townparks extends the corridor out towards the South Strand and many other smaller pockets can be created. Together they join the dots.

Anyone not living on or near these routes should not feel excluded. Far from it. There is plenty more scope throughout the town and every single garden is important.

Let’s get this town buzzing!

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