Choose Nature with Every Choice you Make
As we come to the end of National Biodiversity Week 2022 I want to share some personal thoughts from recent days:
This month celebrated International day for Biodiversity
Last month the Citizens Assembly on Biodiversity held its inaugural meeting, and this month my Department held a Deliberative Dialogue on Forestry to include its role in conserving biodiversity.
Also this month, Cllr Mark Hackett successfully brought a motion to Offaly County Council on the banning of glyphosate based weedkiller by the Council in public spaces.
These are just 3 examples out of many local to international level positives for the conservation of biodiversity.
Yet our graphs on 'at risk' species continue to go the wrong way. Of the species that have been assessed in Ireland, one in every fifth species is threatened with extinction. One in every third species of bee is threatened with extinction.
37 species of bird are of high conservation concern, including species such as curlew, hen harrier, twite and yellowhammer.
We, humans, have history here. Since the industrial revolution we have mechanised the destruction of nature in order to convert it into a resource for us to profit from. We are now doing this at such a rate that we overshoot the earth’s resources on an earlier day each year.
We are destroying habitats and we are causing the extinction of species. We are risking the survival of our own species.
Let’s bring this closer to home: Into your garden if you are lucky enough to have one.
Your garden, no matter what size, is a habitat for wildlife, some you may not even know of. You may feel a need to tidy your garden or that your neighbours want you to. They may even say this to you. But when enough of us leave some or all of our gardens for nature and have the conversations on why this is so important, we will change the narrative.
I remember the first few times I wore a facemask in the early days of the pandemic I was self-conscious. It didn’t take long, in the face of an unseen danger, for nearly everyone to adopt their use. Biodiversity loss is a largely unseen but very real danger.
Leave your grass to grow for at least the month of May. Grasses and flowering plants will flower and will attract pollinators and other species. Celebrate this because it is your important win in the battle against biodiversity loss and the war against mass extinction including our own.
Recently I had the privilege of opening the Martin Neary Woodland Park. Martin has
bequeathed his farm to Mayo County Council for community and recreation purposes and already has a plantation of native trees. In Martin's own words the occasion was his living wake - a wonderfully social affair celebrating a great gesture for future generations. We can't all be like Martin but we can all make 'small gestures'.
Not one of us is neutral when it comes to the biodiversity crisis and habitat loss. I have talked about mowing the lawn but each time we choose to buy a new t-shirt, choose a chocolate spread or reach for a bottle of water we are having an impact. The choice of whether that impact is positive or negative is in our hands every moment of the day.
My hope, my call, is that you choose nature.