Saturday, February 25, 2012

Green Flag 2011/12

What is Biodiversity?

Put simply, Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It is essential for sustaining the natural living systems or ecosystems that provide us with food, clean water, fuel, health, wealth, and other services we take for granted in our everyday life.

We have been working very hard and making great progress towards our fifth green flag ‘Biodiversity’. These are some of the things we have done so far:
  • We had a fascinating talk from Niall Hatch, Birdwatch Ireland. 
  • We fed the visiting birds with homemade bird cakes, ‘peanut buttered’ pinecones and bird feeders over the Winter months. 
  • We enjoyed ‘birdwatching’ and counted birds visiting Rathgormack school. These are the top ten birds that visited us! 
1. Robin
2. Magpie
3. Rook
4. Pied Wagtail
5. Song Thrush
6. Blue Tit
7. Blackbird
8. House Sparrow
9. Starling
10. Chaffinch

  • Beautifully handcrafted nestboxes /bat boxes were erected on the school grounds. For which we would like to thank parents for. 
  • We had a talk about Irish mammals from W.I.T. and the senior children got the opportunity to participate in an interesting survey collecting D.N.A. and prints from mammals visiting the school! 
  • First and second class have also been very busy working on their entry for the ‘Make it yourself-grow it yourself’, competition as part of Waterford Festival of Food 2012 which will take place soon. 

There are plenty of things you can do to help biodiversity at home too!

  • Plant a native tree - Trees create important habitats for many insects, birds and plants and are important for air purification. Make sure that the trees, bushes and flowers that you plant are native species. Scroll to the 'Think Native' section at the bottom of this page for list of appropriate native species to plant. 
  • Do not grow invasive alien species in your garden - Before choosing plants for your garden or pond, make sure that they are not invasive, non-native species. Ask for advice in your garden and request plants from local origin and from certified sources. See the Invasive Species Ireland Horticulture Guidelines. Find out more on Invasive Species in our special feature 
  • Register your tree planting - If you plant a tree in your garden, log your efforts in the Plant for Planet Billion Tree campaign -
  • Avoid using pesticides and fertilisers - Don't feel bad about not weeding or feeding your lawn, it's better for biodiversity! 
  • Do not use slug pellets - these will not only kill slugs, they will also kill the birds who feed on slugs and subsequently absorb the toxic pellets 
  • Create a wildlife area in your garden - let part of your garden grow freely and see what plants and animals appear. You could consider planting some of the following native species in your wildlife area: grasses such as sweet vernal, meadow foxtail, red fescue and common bent, along with wildflowers such as cowslip, lady's smock, cat's ear, ox-eye daisy, and meadow buttercup. This wild area should be cut once a year in early July and the cuttings removed. A wildlife area such as this will attract butterflies and it will also provide cover for frogs, mammals and insects. 
  • Attract birds to your garden - Get a bird box, bird table or hanging feeder for your garden / balcony. Birds eat aphids and other gardeners’ pests and play an important part in the web of biodiversity in the garden.
  • Compost - Buy a compost bin and make your own compost or buy peat-free compost for your garden - you will cut down on your waste generation and will create nutrient rich compost to improve soil health and fertilise your garden. Visit for more details.
  • Collect rainwater - Collect rainwater rather to water your flowers - you will cut down on the amount of water wastage • Set your mower blades to high and always keep them sharp - Dull blades will tear the grass, damaging the plant, making it require more water than healthy plants.
  • In a drought, don’t waste water on a lawn - If your lawn is beginning to turn brown during drought, you do not need to water it, it will revive after normal rainfall resumes.
  • Water in the morning or at night - if you must water your garden, do so in the morning or at night to prevent evaporation. One inch of water a week is better than several short showers.
  • Don't use electrical equipment like leaf-blowers - they consume so much energy for so little gain. Use a rake instead - it's better for your health too!
  • Take time out to sit out in your backyard with friends and family to appreciate the beauty of nature!