Biodiversity Ireland’s biodiversity is unique and precious - it has intrinsic value and is part of what makes our country special. It also contributes at least €2.6 billion each year to the Irish economy through ecosystem services 13 . Biodiversity is a primary indicator of the health of our surroundings and provides for: • The food we eat - the provision of crop plants and their insect pollinators and other food items such as meat and fish; • Purifies our air, decomposes our wastes and forms part of important nutrient cycles; • Is a source of raw materials such as fuel and building materials; • Holds our water supplies in rivers, lakes and other waterways; • Provides important moderation of droughts, floods, temperature extremes and the forces of wind; • Provides a wealth of resources to the Irish tourism industry; • Provides the raw materials for traditional and modern medicines. The Region’s more sensitive habitats and species are protected by European or national legislation – including Special Area of Conservation (SAC’s), Special Protection Area (SPA’s) and Natural Heritage Areas (NHA’s). However, biodiversity is not restricted to rare or threatened species; it includes all the natural world. Natural features such as waterways, trees and hedgerows play important roles in supporting biodiversity at a local level. The Region has various marine and coastal habitats, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. Inland, the rivers and their valleys support a diversity of habitats and species, many rare and important. Habitats of the valleys and floodplains include woodlands, marshes, fens and grasslands while other lowland habitats form the agricultural and urban landscapes that have been shaped by human settlement. The Region also has many mountain ranges, which add to its biodiversity by supporting habitats such as blanket bog, heath and upland grasslands. Rural uses together with varying geological influences has created a diversity of agricultural landscapes. Initiatives such as Ireland’s European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine in the Rural Development Programme 2014-20 have significant potential to bring innovative solutions and practical implementation of new ways to achieve viability in the agriculture and food sector and to improve biodiversity.
Delivered by Operational Groups comprising farmers, researchers, advisors and businesses, EIP projects can provide innovative solutions to the challenges facing the rural economy. Projects such as the Duncannon Blue Flag Farming and Communities Scheme in Co. Wexford harnesses the creativity and resourcefulness of Ireland’s rural sector by addressing challenges such as biodiversity, profitability and sustainability. Participating in “citizen science” can increase understanding and engagement by the public with important biodiversity issues. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is one of the leaders in this area through initiatives such as the Citizen Science Portal, a facility for recorders to submit and store their biodiversity sightings online. A mobile phone application called ‘Report Invasive Plants’ was developed to inform people of problems regarding invasive species and to facilitate easy reporting.
13. National Biodiversity Data Centre. https://bit.ly/2EKUo71
Southern Regional Assembly | RSES
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