This post is also available in: polski (Polish)
When I walk along the main thoroughfare of the city of Galway, a huge seagull flies over my head. Then I feel that not only people live in our city. Until yesterday, I had no idea that taking fallen leaves out of the park can destroy the ecosystem. And what exactly the animals in Galway need?
What is biodiversity?
Do we wonder how many basic and healthy things ecosystems provide for us? We take it for granted that we are walking with a dry foot on the pavement not deep in the water. However, it is biodiversity – the presence of many species of plants and animals, that gives us clean air and water, good-quality soil, and pollination of crops, helps us fight and adapt to climate change, and reduces the effects of natural disasters. Meanwhile, human, through their activities and invasion of species, destroys this diversity.
On the occasion of Earth Week, I had the opportunity to participate in local Zoom workshops organized by the Green Recovery Working Group of Galway County PPN. It was a meeting with representatives of local groups that are involved in restoring the ecosystem in County Galway.
Thanks to this Conversation about Earth, I have learned what animals and plants interact in my city and County Galway and how we can care for them. I think we often don’t realize what biodiversity is. Now is the time to restore what has been lost in the environment. However, in order to do this, it is good finding out what is biodiversity, and what we have around.
Do you know exactly what animals live next to you?
In the beginning, when I was listening to Sibéal Regan from Irish Whale and Dolphin Group I have amazed at the variety of marine animals that live in Galway Bay. There are 40% of dolphins, and 18% of Harbour Porpoises who are very shy BTW. In the West-Irish Atlantic, often on Connemara, we can find 7% of the giant sharks and 5% of whales.
I could observe the dolphins and seals of the nearby Aran Islands. It was the first time in my life that seals observe me a lot. I had a nice feeling because they are curious about people. But didn’t know that whales can be seen in Spiddal – a village to which we drive 15 minutes. Also, once I saw a little dead shark on the beach. It was a painful experience.
While in the city itself and in the surrounding forests there are many species of birds, insects, butterflies, weasels, and hares. And once in the university park, I met a fox early in the morning. I was a little scared of him, but he was afraid of me too. Then I found out from my Irish friend that foxes are gentle animals. Why did I think the fox would want to attack me?
What can I do in my area?
Clean-up the rubish
When I realized that so many dolphins, sharks, whales, seals exist very close to me, my heart ached even more that I can see so much plastic on the beaches. But wait a minute, after all, I can do clean-up with the local volunteers, or do it together with my friend Agnieszka, who will agree with my enthusiasm for such action, surly. Cleaning up together can also be a social occacion. When Justa was picking out the rubbish from the Odra river shore, her daughter woke up in the morning and wanted to help her with it. So let’s think about what can we do? Maybe give up plastic bags during shopping or in the kitchen at the beginning? No plastic bags anymore – it is a long process for me, but realizing what animals live around me motivates me to change.
When I was listening to Dan Clabby who is representative of Conservation Volunteers Galway, what they are doing in the local area. My eyes open wide in surprise because I had no idea that such things were so important for animals and us.
The safe nesting space for birds
Volunteers make safe places for nesting. Because when you look around, you can see that many walls can be a barrier for birds. There can be also a lack of trees and bushes. For example, volunteers make small rafts in Galway bay where swans or other birds can nest. They do also the bigger platforms, you can see in the photo below.
The local volunteers also plant wildflowers and new trees. Sometimes, on an ordinary neighborhood lawn, they introduce more plant diversity, which is a shelter for birds, butterflies, bees, and insects. They also clean beaches and sounding bushes. Because the litter can be an obstacle for nesting too People clean-up local woods, fertilize the soil, and also take care of bogs.
Why are wetlands important?
Bogs absorb carbon dioxide and purify the air. Swaps function as giant sponges that soak up water, then give it back. This processing tremendously on flood safety. Peat bogs also take part in the purification of groundwater. Carrownagappul Bog in County Galway is one of the biggest, most accessible raised bogs in Ireland. This is near Mountbellew. It is inhabited by many birds like Red Grouse, Leser Redpoll, Shipe, Long-eared Owl, Kestrel.
Maybe the orchard?
The local group of Ballindereen Bee Wild of the village of Ballinderreen, which is between Kilogen and Kinvara, has made the orchard in their village. This will not only serve people but also give work to bees. Theyy made also the Sensory Garden with the help of local pupils.
Biodiversity is our life-supporting system, so we should learn how to take care of it so that we can live and be healthy. One day we can wake up more terrified than at the beginning of the pandemic. Because the water is flooding inside our home or there are no more birds in our neighborhood.
Let’s do something for our local planet!
Cover photo by Markus Spiske.