Treasure our Butterflies, Bumblebees and Biodiversity Workshop: 2016

Many species of our wildlife such as the butterfly and the bumblebee are suffering a decline in numbers. As part of an effort to conserve our biodiversity, Monaghan Tidy Towns Network and the National Biodiversity Data Centre are inviting people to a FREE practical workshop on identifying the various species of butterfly and bumblebee we have in the county. It will also cover how to record sightings of these insects. The workshop will take place in Ballybay Wetlands Centre on Saturday, 28 May (10am-4pm).

When we think of a fine summer’s day in Ireland, the hum of bumblebees and the fluttering of butterflies probably spring to mind. Unfortunately today there are fewer bumblebees and butterflies in Ireland than in past decades with some species having become extinct and others heading in that direction.  Undertaking surveys and taking action to improve the habitats of these insects is crucially important to the future survival of at least some of these species.

It’s not just bees and butterflies that are at risk. A report released by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London last week warns that 20% of plant species are becoming extinct. A concept that would be new to many people, the ‘sixth mass extinction’ is now being discussed by scientists. It suggests that we humans are pushing our shared planet towards a mass extinction of species. There have been five preceding mass extinctions on earth – but this is different because we humans would be the driving force behind it. Some people call it ‘ecocide’. There is hope on all fronts however – there is still time to do something about it.

Almost a year ago, Pope Francis published the ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical to acclaim from many quarters. It condemned the contribution of humanity to climate change and thoughtless behaviour in terms of disrespecting and destructing nature and biodiversity. It encouraged humans to look after what we have left for future generations.

 Ballybay Workshop Details

The upcoming workshop in Ballybay is a local effort to look after the butterflies and bumblebees that are left on our little section of the planet.  At the Ballybay workshop, Dr Tomás Murray of the National Biodiversity Data Centre will introduce participants to the biology and the species of Irish bumblebees and butterflies. He will then provide training on how to monitor both groups of pollinators according to international standards. Participants will get to spend a few hours in the field honing their identification skills, for both butterflies and bumblebees and practice the process of recording information for the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s butterfly and bumblebee monitoring schemes.

Nets and other equipment will be provided to participants for use on the day and some will be for sale. Colour identification guides will be given to participants to take home. The day is being organised by Monaghan Tidy Towns Network and sponsored by Monaghan County Council. While the workshop is mainly aimed at adults who wish to participate in the various monitoring schemes run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, children over 12 are also welcome. Priority will be given to booking from members of Tidy Towns groups. Book by contacting Fionnuala Mulligan on 047 73720 or email fmulligan@monaghancoco.ie. Details at https://tidytownsnetworkmonaghan.wordpress.com.

Ballybay Wetlands Centre is the venue for Biodiversity workshop

Promoting and Protecting Biodiversity

There is a particular focus at this time in promoting biodiversity. The Wild Cities’ series on RTÉ has been has been widely praised. Biodiversity Week is actually taking place this week (14 – 22 May). As part of the week many events are taking place nationwide. See listings at http://www.biodiversityweek.ie. The National Biodiversity Data Centre will launch a 5,000 biodiversity records challenge running from tomorrow Friday, 20 to Sunday. 22 May. See http://records.biodiversityireland.ie. In County Monaghan there has already been a bat walk and talk in Inniskeen, and this Saturday the Tidy Towns Group there is organising a ‘Mayfly and Insects on the River’ event. See details on Noticeboard below.

Tidy Towns groups have been encouraged to apply for the Tidy Towns Pollinator Award. The closing date is tomorrow, but it’s expected that it will be available again next year. For Tidy Towns Group and other groups interested in wildlife, a useful ‘Local Community Actions to Help Pollinators’ was published recently on the Biodiversity Ireland website. Other websites of interest are http://www.noticenature.ie and  the website of the Monaghan Town biodiversity project http://www.monaghantownbiodiversity.com.

As individuals, whether we have a large farm or small garden we all have a role to play in conserving wildlife. Planting a wildflower strip means we are taking a good first step. It means that we can get enjoyment from the hum of bumblebees and the fluttering of butterflies  – wonders of nature on our doorstep.

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