20/05/11

20.05.11 Minister Deenihan launches Bioblitz 2011 and National Biodiversity Week 2011 in Killarney National Park

Mr. Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht today (20 May 2011) officially started the BioBlitz 2011 at Killarney National Park, Co Kerry. The event also marked the International Day for Biological Diversity which falls on Sunday 22 May and National Biodiversity Week, 21-28 May 2011.

BioBlitz is a scientific race against time, organised through the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The aim of this fun event is to find as many species as possible within a park over a 24 hour period. During last year’s event, the champions, Connemara National Park recorded a massive 542 species over a 24 hour period.

Five of Ireland’s magnificent state-owned properties will be vying for the title of BioBlitz 2011 Champions, with each site pitted against one another to see which property can find most species.  They are Ballycroy National Park, Co. Mayo, Dromore Nature Reserve, Co. Clare, Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry, The Raven Nature Reserve, Co. Wexford, and Liffey Valley Park, South Dublin. From soaring eagles to the smallest bugs in the undergrowth, teams of scientists and volunteers will comb the parks recording what they find.

Speaking at the event, the Minister said ‘It is great to see so many people here today interested in such an important issue as biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity is one of the most important issues the world faces today; it is the variety of all life forms on Earth, from the tiniest bugs living in the soil, to the butterflies in your garden, the plants they feed from, to the biggest whales of the sea.”

This is a unique event where scientists, students and the general public can come together and learn how scientists and recorders use their skills to study the wildlife of an area.  It will also introduce the non-specialist to the fabulous wealth of biodiversity that occurs all around us. 200 scientists are giving of their time and skills in a voluntary capacity.

The event will commence at 17.00 hrs on Friday 20 May and finish at 17.00 hrs on Saturday 21 May.

National Biodiversity Week

In Ireland National Biodiversity Week is organised as a week long series of celebrations around Biodiversity Day. As part of the celebrations, the National Parks & Wildlife Service together with environmental NGOs, Local authorities and a wide range of other organisations have arranged a week long celebration of Ireland’s biodiversity with plenty of activities aimed at all age groups. Events taking place include nature walks, traditional craft fairs, music and storytelling events, bat walks, public lectures to name but a few.

“Loss of biodiversity has potentially devastating impacts on our environment, health and economy. Because of the lead-in time, the effects of any actions taken may not be seen for many years. If we are to put things right we must start now. People need to become aware of these risks and threats as quickly as possible” said Minister Deenihan

This week provides an opportunity to raise public awareness on the importance of biodiversity for sustainable development. Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity creates opportunities for reducing poverty and improving human well-being. Indeed, reversing biodiversity loss will progress goals towards ending extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring health and education for all and achieving environmental sustainability and international cooperation.

“The truth is that we have a large part of the solution in our own hands” said the Minister, urging people to take action to help Biodiversity by carrying out simple things like:

put up a bird feeder;
plant a native tree or shrub or flower;
cut down on your water consumption;
dispose of waste and packaging properly;
sign up for a nature walk – its only when you get out there will you realise just how much biodiversity is out there, how much a part of it you are, and can be, and how you can influence it.
My Department is not the only body involved in Biodiversity” the Minister added, “the Zoo and the Botanic Gardens, for example, also have busy programmes of events throughout the year. All of these are very important elements in raising awareness of biodiversity.”

International Biodiversity Day

The United Nations proclaimed May 22 the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. 2011 is theInternational Year of Forests and forest biodiversity is the theme for this year’s IDB.

Forests are of vital importance to life on the planet. They help to regulate the climate of the earth, regulate the flow and quality of the water in rivers and lakes, stabilise and maintain the fertility of soils and, last but by no means least, they provide habitats for myriads of species of wildlife or biodiversity, which is so important for sustaining life on our planet.

The extensive natural forests that once covered Ireland have been largely felled and cleared. In the last century new forests, mostly of conifers, have been planted, to replace those that were lost. Recent research has found that these forests contain a much greater variety of biodiversity than was previously thought and that they provide much more than just timber.

However, it is our native woodlands which are most important for biodiversity. We only have a very small area of native woodlands in Ireland compared with other countries – about 2% of the land area – but here in the Killarney National Park we have the most extensive and diverse native forests left in the country – about 1200ha of oak, ash, alder, yew and birch woodland. These forests contain a wealth of biodiversity.

 

ENDS

 

Minister Deenihan can be contacted for interview on 087 2908193

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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