Biodiversity forms the web of life on earth and is very important to the well-being of our planet. Spending more time with nature helps nurture closer connections with our ecosystems and with communities. After just an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20%. In workplaces designed with nature in mind, employees are more productive and take less sick time. Take a look at our biodiversity top tips below to learn more.
Top Tips for Biodiversity
- Cultivate a Wilderness Area: Leave an area of wild lawn to mimic a meadow – enticing shrews, voles and other mammals that feed on grass or insects. A pile of dead wood will encourage beetles and grubs which will in turn draw larger foragers. Nettles are great for a range of insects including butterflies. Try to plant native species where possible as our wildlife relies on these species to survive.
- Grow Wildflowers: Butterflies and bees are drawn to areas of wildflowers. Buddlea is a particular favourite of butterflies, and native species with an open structured flower are good for attracting bees. Not native/can be considered invasive.
- Grow a Hedge: Hedges provide additional nesting areas for birds and small animals. They also help to shelter the garden. Suitable hedge plants include blackthorn, buckthorn, cherry, plum, elder, hawthorn, hazel and privet. Climbers and creepers provide further foliage to boost the insect population and draw birds. Clematis, dog rose and honeysuckle are traditional favourites.
- Hang a bird feeder: Fat balls and seed mixes are ideal for attracting a range of bird species. Offerings of grated cheese will also make you popular with your avian neighbours. If you are feeding birds peanuts during the bird breeding season use a wire feeder with smaller holes, this way birds cannot retrieve whole nuts that can choke chicks.
- Erect a Bird Table and Bath: A bird table provides a useful feeding perch away from predators and a bird bath provides a water source for drinking and washing.
- Put up Nesting and Bat Boxes: Nesting boxes will encourage birds to breed in your garden. Put up bird boxes where they are sheltered from the elements and install before spring so that you do not disrupt the breeding season. Bat boxes can help to provide suitable homes for these native mammals. Bats are not harmful to humans and one pipistrelle bat can eat 3,000 midges in a night, even though their body is only about the size of your thumb!
- Create a Water Feature or Pond: a pond this will diversify your garden ecosystem, or if not, even a small water feature will help to attract different creatures. A pond allows you to keep fish and frogs as well as attracting beautiful insects like dragonflies. Use plants like water lilies and broad leaf pond weed to develop your underwater habitat. Try to use rainwater in your pond as frogs and many insects will not like the chlorine in tap water.
- Plant a butterfly garden – Help butterflies survive and thrive by adding plants to your garden that will attract and feed them.
- Insect hotel: Bees, wasps, butterflies and several species of moths will all appreciate a safe haven and a warm place to hibernate over the winter.
- Fallen Leaves: During the autumn in particular rake fallen leaves into a damp, shady corner of the garden to provide both food and a habitat for many species including frogs, toads, newts and centipedes. Hedgehogs will also appreciate these leaves as a safe place to rest and forage
- Compost: Aside from the fact that compost is a great way to recycle, and provides a wealth of nutrients to garden soil, it encourages a healthy diversity of wildlife in the garden. Good quality compost provides food for decomposers like invertebrates and plants which, in turn, attract birds and mammals.
- Build a home for Bees: Take a clay pot, fill with leaves, straw and a little cotton wool and place upside down in a sheltered spot. A bumblebee prospecting for an over-wintering nest may well take up residence
- Reduce the use of chemical: These can pollute our watercourses and harm wildlife. Nature has its own pest controllers, so if you can attract them to your garden, you won’t need to use chemicals
- Keep Your Pets Inside: If you want to attract native wildlife into your backyard, keep your pets inside. You want to provide a nurturing and safe environment for your native visitors, and cats and dogs might scare them off.
All the trends are pointing towards 2018 being a big year for positive changes in the household. Sustainability is no longer a niche topic but not everyone knows where to start or how they can play their part.
This is where we want to help. With a team of experts we have identified projects that everyone can put in to action in their home.
We will be partnering with families across Ireland where we work with them, side by side, to take on projects that will bring about a positive and lasting change both in their home and their wider community.
Watch this space for regular updates from the families and learn about their experiences through the small changes they are making.
Learn more about how children are reconnecting to nature through our Eco Rangers Schools Programme
Our Biodiversity family will be working alongside our experts to make changes in how they reconnect and spend more time in their natural environment. Keep up to date with what they will be doing. You too could try these some of these tasks and see the difference they make.
- Task 1: 3km Biodiversity Challenge – As part of the Eco Rangers primary schools programme, we encourage kids to get out and explore biodiversity around their school. We want families to take on a 3km challenge in the form of a family walk and log what they see (bugs, flora and fauna) along the way. Get friends and family on board, bring a picnic and scrap book to capture the experience. Take some video or photo evidence of the 3km challenge. Log what they you on the way, drawings by the kids, a map of the walk, anything which will help to tell the story.
- Task 2: Build a bug hotel in your garden – Bord na Móna has a team of ecologists who are responsible for creating new habitats for a range of wildlife. We want families to create their own new habitat in their garden. A bug hotel is a great way to broaden our understanding of nature. By building a bug hotel, you will be able to observe who checks in and how they live. Log what you see through video or photos and share the progress over the summer months. Share content around ‘who moves in’. Insects need love too! Many of your garden’s pollinators are solitary insects like butterflies, moths, ladybugs and solitary bees. These insects do not live in colonies and must find a warm, dry space to build their nests and to hibernate over the winter. With their numbers dropping around the world, these insects could be our garden’s next best friends.
- Task 3: Create a bird feeder/sanctuary – Bord na Móna lands are home to lots of rare birds species and wildlife as a result of the efforts of our ecology team. Some of the rare birds that live on our land include the Curlew. We want families to create their own bird feeder or bird bath in a safe area in your garden to encourage birds to come and feed. It’s very easy to create a bird feeder using recycled materials. A water bottle is a great way to store bird food and it’s a great way to reuse plastic Research which birds will be in your garden in July and August and try and capture any activity through video footage or photos
- Task 4: We want you to get more people involved and we’d like you to share your personal experience with a group in your community. This could be a local school, sports club or community hall. Share what you’ve learned over the summer and encourage others to make small changes.
Let us know how you’re getting on. Find out how our families are getting on too and get involved with a growing community on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BordnaMonaIreland/