How do you build a bug hotel? Can we help song birds in our village? What changes will help bee populations? These were some if the questions asked by Tidy Towns groups across Laois this year, as communities worked with ecologist Fiona MacGowan to write Local Biodiversity Action Plans.
The groups, in Attanagh, Clonaslee, Mountrath, Portlaoise and Shanahoe, were taking part in an innovative new project rolled out by Laois County Council with the support of the Heritage Council, to help communities to engage with their very local heritage, from graveyards to folklore and from wildlife to architecture.
“The Tidy Towns Competition has a category for Wildlife and Habitats, and this is a category where many groups could pick up extra points”, explained Ann-Marie Kelly, Tidy Towns Facilitator with Laois County Council.
“To help groups plan what actions they might take to help wildlife in their area, we ran a series of training seminars earlier this year and then asked groups to tell us if they would like to work on a Local Biodiversity Action Plan for their community. We were delighted when 5 communities decided to take part in the project.”
Speaking at the launch of the plans in Abbeyleix Heritage House on Thursday, Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Catherine Fitzgerald congratulated the groups for their commitment and hard work in writing the plans, and wished them well with the implementation.
In addition to their Local Biodiversity Action plan, with practical clear ideas for projects to enhance their areas for wildlife, each group also received an Information pack with lots of details on wildlife and biodiversity projects, from nest boxes to bug hotels, and including the National Pollinator Plan, launched last month, with ideas to helps Irelands bees and butterflies.
Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council said “this project follows a very successful pilot rolled out by Laois Partnership in 2013, which saw publication of Local Biodiversity Action Plans for seven communities in Laois – Abbeyleix, Ballacolla, Cullahill, Emo, Killenard, Mountmellick and Portarlington . Many actions of these plans have already been put into place, and we are delighted that Laois is really leading the way in community-led action for biodiversity. These simple actions taken by local people, to change their grass mowing regime, plant native trees, reduce pesticide use and other actions, can really make a difference to the world around us, which enhances everyone’s quality of life”
Copies of the plans can be downloaded here: