‘All have a role in protecting our natural world’

ENVIRONMENT Minister Dick Roche is urging the public to respect the natural world around us and its interaction with our everyday lives.

Everyone has a part to play to make sure we protect our biodiversity, the minister explained yesterday when he launched Ireland’s first public awareness campaign.

“When many people think of biodiversity they will perhaps think of nature conservation and the enjoyment we get from the beauty of our natural environment,” said Mr Roche.

“However, the importance of biodiversity is far more significant and its influence on our lives cannot be overestimated.

“Biodiversity provides us with our food, clean air, fresh water and the raw materials for building,” the minister said.

Mr Roche pointed to the global loss of biodiversity being experienced due to increasing development, climate change, invasive alien species and the international trade in endangered species.

The “Notice Nature” campaign is being launched amid Irish efforts to meet the European Union goal to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010.

The minister said the campaign involved important and innovative collaboration between his department and key stakeholders such as the farming, tourism and construction sectors.

Mr Roche said this was the only way to move ahead given the importance of biodiversity to sustaining livelihoods across the economy.

His department will be holding a series of outdoor events in the national parks and nature reserves during May. International Biodiversity Day takes place on May 22.

People can support biodiversity by planting a native Irish broadleaf tree, or sponsoring a native tree through the Tree Council of Ireland or the Native Woodland Trust.

Anything you pour down your drain, sink or toilet might end up in our rivers or sea. Never pour fats, oils, grease or household hazardous materials — such as paint thinners, solvents, or pesticides — down the drain, sink or toilet.

Buy fruit, vegetables and other fresh food in season and, where possible, locally produced. This reduces pollution caused by long-distance food transportation.

By not using pesticides birds have a safe food source of garden slugs and snails.

Use a compost bin to make compost or buy peat-free compost.

IFA officer Ruaidhri Deasy is offering his North Tipperary farm as an example of the biodiversity that exists on the land.

* Information available at: www.noticenature.ie

Nurturing nature

* Plant a tree and make sure it’s a native Irish broadleaf. Rowan, silver birch, juniper and yew work for suburban garden, or if you have a lot of space you could plant an oak or ash tree.

* If you don’t have a garden or space to plant a tree, sponsor a native tree through the Tree Council of Ireland or the Native Woodland Trust.

* Anything you pour down your drain, sink or toilet might eventually end up in our rivers or the sea. Never pour fats, oils, grease or household hazardous materials such as paint thinners, solvents, unused paint or pesticides down the drain, sink or toilet.

* Care for your septic tank — de-sludge at least once a year to ensure waste isn’t seeping into groundwater or nearby rivers.

* Be in tune with nature — buy fruit, vegetables and other fresh local food in season and, where possible, locally produced.

* When purchasing souvenirs such as woodcarvings or ornaments with fur or feathers, make sure the products are regulated.

* Stop using pesticides on your lawn. Slugs and snails are an important food source for thrushes and blackbirds.

* Get a bird box or a bird table for your garden/balcony.

* Create a wildlife area in your garden if you have the space. Plants could include grasses such as such as sweet vernal, meadow foxtail, red fescue and common bent along with wildflowers such as cowslips, lady’s smock, cat’s ear, ox-eye daisy and meadow buttercup.

This area will attract butterflies and provide cover for frogs, mammals and insects.

* Buy a compost bin and make your own compost or buy peat-free compost for your garden.

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