What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity, or biological diversity, describes the total variety of all living things. It includes all plant and animal species, genetic variation and habitats. Changes in land use and lifestyles have resulted in rapid declines in semi-natural habitats and the species they contain. In Northern Ireland over 50 species of plants and animals have become extinct in the last century.
How can gardens help biodiversity?
Most gardens already benefit biodiversity. Gardens contain many habitats and species. Gardens provide food, shelter and water for animals. Walls, cracks, soil, pots, even your garden shed, can be used by wildlife. Remember – the more obvious species such as birds and mammals may depend upon less obvious species such as insects and fungi.
- Plant flowers which encourage bees, butterflies & other insects. No garden? how about some hanging baskets or window boxes?
- Grow a mix of climbers and shrubs to provide food & shelter for insects and birds.
- Bird feeders – provide food & water all year round and then enjoy the view.
- Add water to small shallow container, large pot or a small pond to help frogs and newts feel at home.
- A small pile of dead wood or logs in the corner of your garden or behind the shed will provide a cozy nest.
- Make a pretty rock garden to encourage flora and fauna to flourish
What if I don’t have a garden?
Feed the birds especially throughout the winter months. Clean feeders regularly. Avoid salty or spicy food or items such as bread or uncooked rice which may swell when eaten.
Plant native species; overall these help our wildlife the most. Plant hanging baskets and window boxes to attract butterflies and other insects. Record the plant and animal species you see. This information is vital to determine when species are declining. Send all records to the Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (CEDaR).
If you have a small garden
Compost garden material and kitchen scraps to reduce household waste going to landfill. Do-it-yourself compost is free, can be of excellent quality and provides a home for insects and fungi. Plant climbers such as honeysuckle or ivy, which provide food and cover for birds and insects.Water wisely – water is a very precious resource. Collect rainwater in a water butt. Plant native trees such as rowan or holly. Provide water for birds to drink and bathe in. Create a variety of habitats such as a mini pond, log or rock pile. These are great for insects and are quick and easy to make. Take care not to plant invasive species. Avoid using pesticides, herbicides and slug pellets.
If you have a large garden
Put up bird and bat boxes. Plant a dense border to provide cover for small mammals. Consider leaving part of your lawn uncut for part of the summer. Long grass is beneficial to many species. Better still create a wildflower meadow and attract a host of butterflies. Create a pond or a water feature for frogs and newts. Plant a native species hedge to provide a home and food for birds and mammals.
If you have a backyard
Put up bird boxes. Allow plants to set seed to provide winter feeding for birds. Ensure bird tables are positioned to keep birds safe from cats and other predators. Grow plants and vegetables in containers using peat-free compost. Peat bogs support many rare and threatened plants and animals. Most of Northern Ireland’s bogs have been destroyed. Choose plants that will attract wildlife. Create a mini pond using a stone trough or enamel sink. Create an insect home, encouraging insects such as ladybirds and lacewings which will help to reduce pests such as greenfly.
Our role in Biodiversity
Alongside our everyday business activities there also exists a less obtrusive world that shares our surroundings – a world of plants, birds, mammals, invertebrates, fungi and micro-organisms. This variety of life is called biodiversity. As land managers, biodiversity conservation is an important part of our environmental management at all Acheson & Glover sites by means of careful planning, operating and restoration.
Biodiversity is actually an important consequence of our quarrying operations as we provide wildlife havens in areas where biodiversity is otherwise limited by other forms of land-use such as intensive farming. Within our limestone quarries and sand pit we have increased habitat diversity for example: species rich grasslands for insects and butterflies, cliff exposures for breeding Ravens and Peregrine falcons, nesting banks for Sand martins and wetlands areas for amphibians and dragonflies.
Acheson + Glover demonstrate their commitment to protecting and enhancing biodiversity by contributing to the Quarry Products Association NI Biodiversity and Geodiversity Action Plan for the Aggregates Industry; partnering in a number of environmental projects ensuring that nationally and locally important species and habitats are conserved and enhanced.