Monday 21 October 2019

Get closer to nature in National Biodiversity Week

Conor Nelligan, County Heritage Officer

National Biodiversity Week, 2017, commences on Friday May 19 and continues up until Sunday 28th May. It presents a great opportunity for people, young and old, to get a sense of the wonderful natural heritage that surrounds and connects us all.

As stated on the National Biodiversity Website (, 'National Biodiversity Week is about communicating the importance of biodiversity and motivating people to play their part in protecting it. It's also about entertaining them, showing the fun and wonder that can be found in nature and inspiring people to learn more, see more, do more'.

Biodiversity, essentially meaning the variety of life in the natural world, has many hotspots around the world. Ireland, as a comparatively small landmass, and having become isolated from mainland Europe after the retreat of ice following the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, has a much more modest level of biodiversity, one example being that Ireland has only 27 of the total 204 terrestrial mammals found in the majority of Europe. In a recent government report to the Convention on Biological Diversity, it was documented that Ireland is currently host to 31,448 different natural species across the kingdoms of the natural world (i.e. plants, animals, fungi, protists, etc.). Invertebrates and fungi account for close to 80% of all Irish species recorded and it is estimated that a further 8,500 species of algae (protists) and fungi have yet to be discovered in Ireland.

The natural world is a most fascinating place and Biodiversity Week presents a great opportunity to get involved in nature-friendly activities and to learn about the real world around us. Over 50 events to date have been organised throughout Ireland, including a number in the County of Cork.

On Saturday 20th May from 6 to 8pm at Cloghna Head, West Cork, there will be a wonderful event where those present will get the chance to possibly see and most certainly learn about the variety of whales off Irish shores. The 'watch will be delivered by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) Sightings Officer, Padraig Whooley, who will be on hand to explain the field-craft behind whale watching and to help identify the different species that can be seen in this area. There will also be a wide range of whale artefacts and discussion on whale and dolphin biology, ecology and IWDG's ongoing research on the larges whale of West Cork'. The event is free and all are welcome; attendees are advised to wear suitable walking shoes and have with them a light rain jacket, sunglasses, sunscreen and water.

On Sunday 21st May, at Streamhill (about 5km north of Doneraile); a wonderful butterfly walk will take place, commencing at 11am. The walk will be led by Damaris Lysaght and those present will get to learn all about the butterflies in County Cork. Those interested in attending - all welcome - are requested to email

Also on Sunday 21st May as part of National Biodiversity Week, there will be an event in the Glengarriff National Nature Reserve. The afternoon, from 2pm to 5pm, will examine aquatic biodiversity and all present will be instructed on how to sample rivers for macroinvertebrates (which in themselves are indicators for the quality of water present). The demonstration will be given by the award winning StreamScapes company.

On Monday, May 22nd, there will be a National Biodiversity Week talk by Ted Cook in the Council Chamber, County Hall, commencing at 3pm. Ted will discuss the importance of biodiversity to our lives today and it promises to be a fascinating event. All welcome.

A few days later on Thursday May 25th, a butterfly monitoring course will take place in East Cork, organised by SECAD (South and East Cork Area Development). The course, which runs from 10am to 4pm is free and open to all, and would particularly benefit community based organisations involved in local heritage projects, particularly Tidy Towns Groups. The course will be given by Tomás Murray of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, who will introduce the biology and the species of Irish bumblebees and butterflies, and provide training on how to monitor both groups of pollinators according to international standards. The course takes place in the SECAD Office, Owennacurra Business Park, Knockgriffin, Midleton and for more information visit

These biodiversity events and many more are listed on As part of the week the Irish Environmental Network have also organised a Biodiversity Photographer of the Year competition, where entrants will be in with a chance to win up to €500 in cash prizes. For secondary school students, there is also a 'Young Biodiversity Photographer of the Year' competition. All entries must be taken in the month of May 2017 and emailed to The deadline for entries is 31st May, 2017.