2017 – Year 4
Dromard Scholars Corner
New Footpaths Latin School
Our Environment in Focus – Biodiversity Report
Our Environment in Focus Dromard, Co. Longford Workshop Saturday 4th February 2017
Prepared by Nuala Madigan, Environmental Education Officer with the
Irish Peatland Conservation Council
Contact: 045-860133 E-mail:email@example.com Website:www.ipcc.ieIntroduction
On the 4th February 2017Dromard Tidy Villages organised and hosted a community event for all members of their community at the community centre in Dromard. The aim of the event was to highlight to community members the variety of projectsthat the local Tidy Villages group engages with to support the protection, enhancement and maintenance of the variety of biodiversity found within their local community. Three quest speakers were invited to attend:
Liam Mitchell from the Swift Conservation Project, Longford Branch
Robert Birtwhistle from Birtwhistle Hedging and Environmental
Nuala Madigan Education Officer with the Irish Peatland Conservation Council
Rare Swift Population Dromard
Liam Mitchell from the local swift conservation project introduced to members of the local community the importance of a rare swift population that are using the community centre as a nesting site and called for community volunteers to come together to monitor these birds. Participants were introduced to some features of this special bird including thatthe swift is a migratory bird travelling over 14,000 miles return trip each year from the continent of Africa. The bird travels to Ireland each Summerfor breeding and is associated with towns around the country. They nest in crevices and the eaves of building structures in urban areas however both structure demolition and upgrading led to a reduction in swift nesting sites towards the end of the 20th and into the 21st century. Always in flight the swift uses the nest only to rear its youngand the importance of these nests is the swift displays strong associations with particular nest sites and returns yearly to the same structure. The Dromard population of swiftsis the only rural community in Longford where swifts are found outside the larger towns and villages making them a very special population:
Recommended actions for Dromard Tidy Villages
Set up a volunteer group to meet with Liam Mitchell of the local swift conservation project and survey the nests of the swift populations on their arrival in 2017 to the local area.
Based on the swift conservation projects recommendations take action necessary to maintain and potentially increased the number of nesting swifts in Dromard
Hedgerows of Dromard
Robert Birtwhistle from Hedging and Environmental is a qualified NPTC accredited hedge layer who spoke at the event on the variety of hedge laying methods to suit both arable and stock faming, the maintenance of hedgerows and the values of hedgerows for the community of Dromard. Hedges were traditionally put in place to create boundaries between farms however as farming methods changed in the 19th century towards the use of modern technology hedgerows were removed to accommodate these changes within Irish farming. In comparison to mainly Europe Ireland and the UK are considered importantislands with extensive hedgerows systems still in place today. These hedgerows are now considered valuable wildlife corridors across the landscape and support a diverse number of wildlife species. Community members were encouraged to maintain existing hedgerows systems in place within their community.
Recommended actions for Dromard Tidy Villages
Map the hedgerows around the community of Dromard
Encourage landowners to maintain existing hedgerows
Consider to plant native hedgerows in areas where appropriate
Understanding Biodiversity and its Value
Nuala Madigan from the Irish Peatland Conservation Council identified that biodiversity was the variety of all the different plant and animal species found locally in Dromard and where this biodiversity lives was known as a habitat. Biodiversity has an important value for the people of Dromard as it provides many services including those bees that pollinate the crops and provide honey, the worms that make a healthy soil for growing flowers, vegetables and other crops and how birds were natural control of pests such as mice and slugs and snails. The talk encouraged the community of Dromard to discover what biodiversity they had present before they took action for biodiversity as sometimes we just have to be aware of its presence and protect its habitat. However due to the changes in our communities throughout the past century more and more our local biodiversity could do with a helping hand. A number of suggestions to encourage biodiversity were suggested including:
Can the community of Dromard locate an area to create a wildlflower meadow or indeed an area where they can just let the grass grow without mowing for a season. The benefits of an area like this is it offers shelter to animals as they move through the community and the flowers provide a valuable source of nectar for bees and butterflies. It is also suggested to leave a clump of nettles as it will attract butterflies including the peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral as these species lay their eggs on nettles. The young caterpillars also feed on the leaves of nettles. Leaving areas go wild will also support waste minimisation within the community and reduce time spent mowing during the Summer months.
A great way to engage with local children is to make an insect hotel for their school grounds. An insect hotel is exactly what it suggests a habitat for a wide variety of creepy crawlies in your community. They are easy to make using between 5-8 old pallets stacked on top of one another. Within the spaces of the pallets stuff leaves, mosses, twigs and stones all materials that offer a dark and damp environment for your creepy crawlies. This offers a new habitat to your community. A simple log pile would also achieve the same results.
The mature trees and hedgerow in the community already act as a habitat to support nesting birds. If you decide to plant immature trees why not consider putting in place some bird boxes on these to encourage nesting birds until the trees are big enough to support the birds nest and to provide sufficient cover for the nests from predators. As Dromardhave a rare swift populations it is recommended they engage initially with the Swift Conservation Project when focusing on birds within their community.
Bird Feeders and Bird Bath
In Winter when food is scarce in the community of Dromard encourage home owners and school children to feed garden birds. However don’t forget to stop feeding them in late Spring to encourage the garden birds to feed on what gardeners often consider pests such as slugs and snails (just a reminder slugs and snails are actually really important as they are part of the food chain and they are natural decomposers turning plant material into a soil!). Why not also take part in BirdWatch Irelands National Garden Bird Survey and submit your records to them yearly.
Water is essential for all life. Garden birds need water just as we do. Adding a bird bath to your community will encourage garden birds and of course it will be a great sight to watch them washing their feathers and drinking in your school wildlife garden or other location in the community.
Bats are legally protected species in Ireland and the selection of mature trees and older farm buildings around Dromardoffer wonderful roosting sites for bats. Female bats give birth to one baby bat each year known as a ‘pup’ and during this time females gather together to share heat and keep the roost warm. Male bats tend to prefer cooler temperatures and may leave the maternity roost to keep cool. Putting a bat box in place on some of the mature trees or on the side of the school building would be a great addition for bats in your community.
Creating a Pond
A wetland is a fantastic addition for biodiversity within Dromard. Dromard may already have a selection of lakes, rivers, streams and drains that should be noted for their wildlife potential but you can also create a pond within the school. To make the pond safe I suggest rather than digging a hole in the ground use an old bath or cattle trough from a field, plant water loving plants such as iris, water cress, ladysmock, water mint or pond lilies. Including a ramp into the pond (such as an old plank of wood) would allow amphibians such as frogs or newts gain access for breeding while dragonflies and mayflies may lay their eggs in the water.
Create a Butterfly Garden
Ireland only has thirty three species of butterfly and some are coastal so don’t expect to find they all in your community but do encourage butterflies by considering what you plant. The first suggestion is to leave a patch of nettles as the Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell butterfly caterpillars all feed on nettles. If you have a patch of nettles use rope to fence them off for these butterflies. Buddleia is known as the butterfly bush and provides nectar. Lavendar, sedum, chives, wild thyme and verbena will all provide great colour and of course nectar for butterflies aswell. Also water mint and lady smock will also support your butterflies in the wetland areas.
What about Moths?
Many moths are nocturnal for the day flying moths Buddleia will be a great source of food while to attract moths at night evening primrose is a plant to consider planting. These are also an important source of food for your community with each bat feeding on up to 3000 invertebrates a night.
Ireland’s Pollinator Plan highlighted the value of bees and their importance for pollinating crops that provide us with food. Making space for bees in your community is really important. Both creating wildflower areas and by planting for butterflies you are creating great sources of nectar. However like all living things bees need water to survive so why not put in place a bee bar. It is really similar to a bird bath however you should include a number of stones that emerge above the level of the water. These will allow the bees to rest on the stone while drinking at the edges. It is only the new queen bees that hibernate in Winter as old queens and males die. Going into hibernation is important because it protects the queens from the rigours of life above ground, with the risk of predation, starvation and diseases. To hibernate, queen bees dig into well-drained soil, usually on north-facing banks. This varies between species but it’s thought that they choose north-facing banks because if they were south-facing, they would be exposed to the low winter sun which could heat the soil and bring the bees out of hibernation before spring arrives. Staying in banks probably helps them avoid being flooded, as does the well-drained soil. They dig down about 10cm or more, and excavate a little hole in which they will spend the winter, surviving temperatures down to minus 19C (Information from bumblebeeconservation.org). Is there a north-facing bank that can be cleared of vegetation for bees to hibernate in Dromard.
A threat in all communities is invasive species. Longford County Council have a programme in place to manage invasive species so I do not recommend that the Tidy villages group in Dromard take action themselves. I suggest that Dromard Tidy Villages monitor invasive species within their community. First map and identify the invasive species if any in Dromard. Take a photo of each location and reort the invasive species with the local authority. In the following years continue to monitor the invasive species by taking photographs which will help to either confirm spread of the species or show signs of reduction.
There are lots of initiatives Dromard can do to protect, manage and encourage biodiversity in their area however first the Tidy Villages should record what habitats are present and identify a selection of species within each habitat identified
Once the mapping is done select one or two projects a year and build from this – you do not have to take action on all of the above as Dromard may have many natural habitats that provide for the local biodiversity so choose those initiatives that best suit your ommunity
Work with the local school and encourage the young people of the community to explore biodiversity and support them by setting up a few biodiversity projects on their school grounds.
Litter Audit 2017
2016 – Year 3
(A full report can be found at http://www.tidytowns.ie/publications)
Plant Species – Rockery @ Martins Cross
2015 – Year 2
Dromard Tidy Villages are proud to announce that we have once again acquired a respectable score in the SUPERVALU 2015 National Tidy Towns Competition; in fact, we have gained an extra ten points up from last year.
A few areas were cited as having room for Improvement such as ‘Wildlife, habitats and Natural Amenities. We will address these in the coming year.
We would like to extend our gratitude to all the volunteers who made this happen. Many people contributed work hours, materials and expertise. Sincere thanks to all who came out and helped in any way. We look forward to seeing you all out again during the next season.
Please join us on facebook and keep an eye out for our next phase.
Dromard Tidy Villages Notice
2014 was our first year to enter the Tidy Towns Competition and creditable results were achieved. We would like to thank all those whom helped out in any way last year and it is now hoped to build on these results for 2015.
Our first meeting for 2015 will take place on Thursday 19th of Feburary in the Latin School Community Centre starting at 8.15pm sharp. All are welcomed to attend.
To start the ball rolling a Parish Litter Pick-Up day will take place on Saturday 21st Feburary 2015 meeting at the Latin School Community Centre from 10 am to 12 noon. We would encourage as many as possible to come out and lend a hand on the day. .To keep in touch with up and coming events for the year a Dromard Tidy Villages Facebook page has been setup or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
2014 – Year 1
Tidy Villages Results
For our very first time to enter The Tidy Towns Competition the community of Dromard can be very proud of the results which were announced today.
Please click on link to view results..
We now can look forward to improving these results over the next few years and thus enhancing the over all look of the two villages and surrounding area’s.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people that helped out with the parish litter day including our sponsors off the hanging baskets and hangers at the Latin school..
Anyone wishing to help out and get involveed can contact Gerry McCabe, Mark Murtagh, Peter Masterson or Peter Cassidy