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Biodiversity encompasses all living things; the diversity of species, the variation of genes that enables organisms to evolve and adapt, and the wide range ecosystems where organisms live and interact.
The world’s ecosystems are fragile and their collapse may cause mass extinction of species. It is estimated that more than 10,000 species become extinct worldwide each year, and this figure is rising. The primary cause of this extinction is human beings.
How can gardens help biodiversity?
Most gardens are already of great significance to biodiversity. The combination of habitats, soils and native and exotic plants create a unique environment. By adopting some or all of the measures below, the biodiversity in your garden can be further enhanced. Always remember that biodiversity is reliant on complex interactions and that the tiniest insect, lichen or fungus can be of huge significance to the more ‘obvious’ species such as birds and mammals.
Ten ways to help encourage biodiversity in your garden:
1. Use ornamental plants that provide a food source over a long period. Include nectar and pollen-rich plants for bees, butterflies and other flower visiting insects, and fruiting trees and shrubs for mammals and birds. Night flowering or scented species will benefit moths.
2. Leaving dead wood on trees is hugely beneficial to biodiversity, although it is rarely safe to do so in the average garden. Alternatively, use dead wood as a garden ornament, or create a feature from a log pile. This will benefit invertebrates, fungi, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
3. Consider cutting back some of the perennials in spring that provide a winter food source for birds and mammals. If left, many grasses and perennials with bold seed heads, stems and foliage will enhance the over-wintering potential and survival rates of beneficial species.
4. Reduce the use of chemicals, particularly to control insect pests. All insects are an important part of the natural food chain in your garden. The chain includes sparrows, blue tits, ladybirds and lacewings that are natural predators of insect pests.
5. A water feature without fish (it need only be a washing-up bowl set into the ground) will enable amphibians to spawn. They will return the favour by controlling slugs and snails.
6. Reduce the size of your lawn, or consider leaving part uncut. Long grass can be beneficial to many species and reducing mowing cuts emissions and helps preserve fossil fuels.
7. Turn all or part of your lawn into a wildflower meadow. This will require careful management but can be hugely rewarding.
8. Install bird feeders, bird, hedgehog and bat boxes, solitary bee nests, ladybird and lacewing homes and so on. Remember, birds should be provided with food and water throughout the year and not just winter. Many birds will benefit from the wide range of insects, worms and other invertebrate animals in your garden.
9. Think carefully about what you use in your garden. Consider what part of the world materials come from such as potting compost, plants and wooden furniture. Are the habitats from which these materials come under threat?
10. Recycle the plant material in your garden as compost. Leaf litter, in particular, makes superb compost. Always check your compost heap for wildlife before disturbing. Use the compost instead of peat based products. (Compost Bins can be purchased from our Sullatober Depot, for further information contact our Sullatober Depot on 028 9335 1192 ).
Carrickfergus Borough Council is committed to enhancing biodiversity through:
1. Reducing chemical inputs in our properties;
2. Not using peat based products;
3. Planting wildflower meadows and thousands of trees since 2000;
4. Deploring the illegal collection of plants from the wild;
5. Ensuring where possible that wood products used, are genuinely certified as coming from forests that are well managed with full regard to the environment;
6. Employing horticultural best practice and encouraging a sustainable approach to the work we do;
7. Monitoring, recording and enhancing biodiversity at our open spaces;
8. Providing relevant scientific and practical advice to our customers;
9. Maintaining plant genetic diversity by growing a wide range of ornamental plants;
10. Providing advice on the control of invasive alien plants.
- Carrickfergus in Bloom Blooming Wild!
- For information on Local Biodiversity Action in Northern Ireland, visit www.biodiversityni.com
For further information please contact:
Stephen Daye - Parks & Countryside Development Officer
Telephone: 028 9335 8039