Vote: People Together for Biodiversity Award – Large Group

People Together for Biodiversity Award – Large Group

Category B – (Large community group project, run on more than €3,000 budget)

Scroll down the page to learn about the six projects shortlisted in this category

Category Winner:

Moore Community Council CE Scheme with their project

Ballydangan Bog Red Grouse Project



PROJECT A: John Sullivan Resource Centre Biodiversity Garden

Group: John Sullivan Resource Centre (JSC), Clane, Co. Kildare


In 2013, with help from our resident horticulturalist, Lucy Bell from Growing, we started the creation of a biodiversity garden in the field at the back of the John Sullivan Resource Centre, by planting an orchard of heritage fruit trees, and creating a wildflower meadow by not mowing the grass. Since then we have added to this with the addition of a bee friendly hedgerow, native woodland, willow coppice, wildlife pond, butterfly corner, vegetable garden, soft fruit area, herb bed, log piles and a wheelchair accessible pathway loop through the garden while also maintaining the pre-existing native Irish hedgerow.

Through funding from Kildare County Heritage Office in 2014, we set up 2 beehives for native Irish black bees, and in 2017 we received funding to develop educational signs for the garden, outlining each habitat in the garden, explaining important words such as biodiversity and highlighting plants such as nettle and clover.

We focused on creating habitats for pollinators. Our main habitat is our wildflower meadow, where we have over 50 different species of native wildflowers recorded in 2018. The greatest number of bumblebees in 2018 were counted on birdsfoot-trefoil, field scabious, common knapweed, red clover, white clover, self-heal, spear thistle, ragwort, bush & tufted vetch, yarrow, wild carrot and dandelion. We recorded white tailed, red-tailed, common carder, buff-tailed, garden and early bumblebees in 2018.

Our butterfly corner hosts various plants for butterflies. For larval food plants we have alder and purging buckthorn, birdsfoot trefoil, nettles and grasses. For nectar rich plants we have buddleia and lilac for adult butterflies. We recorded 12 different species of butterfly in the garden in 2018, including the rare marsh fritillary.

Our bee friendly hedgerow, hosts plants that provide nectar and pollen for bees such as hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, wild rose and Japanese rose.

The positive biodiversity impact of the project

  • We have created over 13 different habitats for wildlife in the garden so far. The habitats we have are: heritage fruit orchard, wildflower meadow, native hedgerow, including raised banks, bee friendly hedgerow, native woodland, willow coppice, wildlife pond, butterfly corner, outdoor vegetable garden, compost area, soft fruit area, herb bed including comfrey and log piles in the garden.
  • Our wildflower meadow has gone from 17 to over 50 different wildflower species in 5 years, providing huge nectar sources for bees and butterflies. We have numerous other trees and shrubs providing nectar and pollen for the various pollinators, such as whitethorn, ivy, bramble, blackthorn, elder and willow.
  • We recorded 6 different species of bumblebee, as well as our native black honey bees in 2018. We recorded the white-tailed, red-tailed, common carder, buff-tailed, garden and early bumblebees.
  • We recorded 12 different species of butterfly in the garden in 2018, including the rare marsh fritillary.
  • We recorded a variety of other insects such as common green and field grasshoppers, spiders, flies, hoverflies, moths, including cinnabar moth caterpillars and the silver Y moth, willow sawflies, soldier beetles, 7 spotted ladybirds and leaf hoppers.
  • In our wildlife pond we recorded numerous water-based creatures. We had tadpoles, and baby common frogs. We recorded the common hawker and the ruddy darter dragonfly, blue-tailed and common blue damselfly. In the water itself, we recorded water boatmen, backswimmers, great diving beetles, whirligig beetles, pond skaters, various pond snails, water worms, leeches, damselfly, mayfly, caddisfly and dragonfly larvae and water mites.
  • Our woodland and hedgerows provide shelter and nesting sites for birds, and various plants provide food for the birds. We have whitethorn, blackthorn, wild rose, cotoneaster, pyracantha, hazel, rowan, wild cherry, bird cherry, crab apple, wild pear, oak, ash, alder, holly, elder, ivy, bramble, willow to name a few.


PROJECT B: Ballydangan Bog Red Grouse Project

Group: Moore Community Council CE Scheme











The Ballydangan Bog Red Grouse, was established initially in 2009, by Moore Gun and Conservation Club in partnership with Moore Community Council, and by Bord na Mona (Landowners, who gave Moore Gun & conservation club the site to undertake the required works) as a test project aiming to prevent the decline and, in the long-term, increase the numbers of Red Grouse and other birds of conservation concern on Ballydangan Bog, Co. Roscommon.

As a community-based venture, one of the main project aims was to engage the local community by helping them to raise and strengthen the awareness about the importance of red grouse and raised bog conservation. Some of this public awareness activities include the development of educational material, hosting school and university visits and disseminating the project’s outcomes through site visits and local press.

The main aim of this project has been to limit the specific factors affecting the decline of Red Grouse, breeding Curlew and many other red listed species that use Ballydangan Bog while supporting existing conservation priorities for the site. More specifically, the Ballydangan Bog Red Grouse Conservation Project (2016-2020) was written with the aims to:

  • Provide best-practice management strategies aimed at increasing the Red Grouse and breeding Curlew population on Ballydangan Bog;
  • Implement management strategies in a manner that supports wider biodiversity goals, particularly for the conservation of raised bog habitat other red-listed species;
  • Promote community involvement in planning and decision-making;
  • Maintain an atmosphere of cooperation, participation and commitment among conservation rangers, landowners, land managers and other stakeholders in the development and implementation of site management strategies;

Encourage the long-term funding necessary to ensure the survival of Ballydangan’s Red Grouse population and to facilitate the collection and analysis of data during the course of the project.

The positive biodiversity impact of the work

An unintended consequence of the project has been a positive response from breeding Curlew on the project site. In 2018, a Curlew survey undertaken by Birdwatch Ireland under contract by Bord na Mona (Landowners) on the project site found 1/2 pairs of breeding Curlew. Additional and more intensive monitoring by Moore Community councils own CE scheme staff detected up to 7 breeding pairs using the project site, with evidence of breeding productivity in July 2018. With the Irish breeding Curlew population estimated at around 150 pairs, this highlights the importance of the project site for this threatened species.

In general, the presence of breeding Curlew on Ballydangan Bog supports existing evidence, which recognises that the previous Red Grouse management can and has helped to maintain the numbers and helped raise the range of some breeding waders on site. This evidence should be used to form an even stronger argument for funding and support to be directed into like minded projects being managed or started by local community groups in Ireland.

Here is a small list of varying species which use the Ballydangan Bog, Breeding (and wintering) Common Snipe are present in healthy numbers on Ballydangan Bog. Additionally, it has been noted and commented by many local residents that other bird species (e.g. hedgerow/passerines that use hedgerows) have seen a steady increase in numbers. Hare are also very common throughout the project site. Other important bird species that use the site include a Barn Owl, wintering Golden Plover, Whimbrel and wintering Lapwing. The site is also used by Grey Herron, Kestrel, Merlin, Sparrow hawk, Cuckoo, Magpie, Raven, Sedge Warbler, Hooded Crow, Magpie and Reed Bunting. Since 2012, the project site has been occasionally used in winter by a male Hen Harrier.

PROJECT C: Liffey Linear Park, Newbridge  – Pollinator and biodiversity projects

Group: Newbridge Tidy Towns Association

Newbridge Tidy Towns Association, with the support or Kildare County Council, maintain and develop the Liffey Linear Park in Newbridge and work continuously to enhance the value of the space as a vehicle for demonstrating and promoting practices which are beneficial to local biodiversity.

These initiatives include, among others, the creation of:

Wildflower meadow – We have created a Wildflower meadow in The Strand which is reseeded every year in order to increase the diversity of native plants. We source our seeds and bulbs from Design by Nature & Beechhill Bulbs.

Insect hotel – We have built an insect hotel from old logs, sticks and gravel to act as both an insect nesting spot but also as an educational tool to raise awareness of the importance of our insect population amongst visitors to the Park.

Bat roosting areas – We work under the guidance of the Kildare Bat Group to erect a number of bat boxes throughout the Park. These are monitored on a regular basis by the Group and form part of the now regular ‘Bat-walks’ to educate the public on the varied bat population living in the Park and surrounding areas.

Bee-friendly zones – We have created an area of bare earth on the bank from the Watering Gates to The Strand as a potential nesting area for mining solitary bees. This area is also already being monitored for Bumblebees and reported to The National Biodiversity Data Centre.

We have also adopted pollinator friendly mowing regimes in many areas of the Park, including the wildflower meadow (mown once p.a.) and the bird-nesting area, raised bank from Watering Gates to The Strand and areas along the riverbank (not mown at all).

The Association has also planted many native trees in the Park over the last 30 years, including Hawthorn, Rowan, Willow and Native Apple Trees to complement the native flowering hedgerow along The Strand on the Ryston side. There are also flowering Cherries, Blackthorn, Ash, Silver Birch, Alder, Holly and Sessile Oak supporting a wide range of bird and insect life. We have also planted a wide range of pollinator-friendly spring bulbs and perennials.

The positive biodiversity impact of the work

As our knowledge continues to grow we hope to work more closely with various partners, volunteer and otherwise – Kildare Bat Group, Wild Kildare, National Biodiversity Centre etc – to monitor and register the biodiversity in the Park. This will allow us effectively track changes over time and better understand the impact our efforts are having. We also plan to begin monitoring the impact of our actions through participation in the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme.

We have begun recording the flowers and trees in Liffey Linear Park and a formal Tree Survey is planned for next year.


PROJECT D: Garden Biodiversity

Group: The Growery, Birr Co Offaly











The Growery is a community food commons in Birr Co. Offaly. Often when we speak of biodiversity, we speak of that diversity above the ground, and at the Growery we see an abundance of bees, bumbles, and pollinators of all kinds, insects, birds, hogs, cats, mice, shrews, mice, the neighbourhood cats, and all that you would expect from a healthy chemical free garden.

We took a dead vacant lot and turned it into a vibrant community food commons where we bring groups for events and make consistent efforts to educate, young people especially, as to the complex web of life beneath the soil, where mycorrhizal fungi interact with billions of bacteria, and various microorganisms to feed plantlife from the bottom up, working in conjunction with solar energy from the top down to create abundant healthy plantlife. We also use archea for our biodigestion and use the process to teach the earliest stages of evolutionary development on earth.

In showing the biodiverse connections beneath the soil, connecting these to plant life and plant life to human health, we pursue a goal of directly linking soil and ecological health to that of the individual, and thereby to show the deep biological connection between ourselves and the diversity of life.

The positive biodiversity impact of the work

  • seeded funding for Tidy Towns polytunnel in 2015 where flowers are grown for the town, (this year the Tidy Towns newsletter has the sub-title “Making Birr and eco-friendly Community”)
  • provided seeds for local sensory gardens, and school projects
  • initiated a second food project in the adjacent village of Crinkle
  • installed renewable energy via solar and built a wind turbine
  • began discussions for the phasing out of chemical sprays in the municipal district
  • established 10% reductions for community and voluntary organizations in the local area
  • put forward the space and representatives to assist the Irish Regenerative Land Trust to become established
  • put forward representation to co-establish Birr Waters Trust
  • facilitated world premier of Diana Beresford Kreugers A Call of the Forest
  • co-established the Woodland Leaugue’s ‘Forest in a Box’ scheme in GaelScoil na Laochra
  • got local bacterialogically indigenous  healthy food into local participants and the local populous via local cafes
  • co-facilitates local mental health groups in an outdoor natural setting
  • coordinated community service learning programs with the Irish Heritage School
  • runs seed trials and biochar trials in partnership with national institutions
  • this is our fourth year we have raised 22k so far for the project and it is the work of less than a handful of people.


PROJECT E: EDIBLE Planting for Biodiversity in Westport

Group: The Edible Landscape Project

In this innovative approach to local biodiversity management, the Edible Landscape Project (ELP) an education and training initiative based in Westport, Co. Mayo, has been teaching local groups, through its series of educational workshops, how biodiversity and ecosystem services help us adapt to and mitigate climate change.

ELP uses the forest gardening technique as a teaching tool and for this particular project, ELP has been working with locals to a) design, b) implement and c) monitor an edible, species-rich Forest Garden at the Quay Community Centre in Westport.

The forest garden, a form of Agroforestry, which is a very sustainable form of horticultural planting, consists of guilds i.e. a number of plants planted together in such a way to provide multiple functions which maximize biodiversity levels of a plot. Biodiversity has a fundamental value locally as it forms the backbone of viable ecosystems. Also because we are so dependent on it for our cultural, economic, and environmental well-being.

Guilds are typically set up around a central fruit tree – in this case an apple tree. Each plant species in the ecosystem performs one or more functions that benefit others in the vicinity, as well as interacting with animal species and soil microorganisms to create a viable ecosystem.

Below are examples of plant and tree species ELP used to create our guild on the site of the QCC. All plants were sourced from local Westport/ Mayo nurseries.
– 2 x Apple Trees
– Chives (for culinary use)
– Strawberries and various types of Mint (for ground cover and food)
– Comfrey for Mulch and as a mineral accumulator
– Yarrow as a mineral accumulator
– Borage and lavander for pollination
– Eleagnus for Nitrogen fixation

The positive biodiversity impact of the work

This positive impacts on biodiversity of this project are encapsulated in the behavioural change of project participants in the following areas:

Increased local levels of PLANTING for biodiversity. Throughout ELP workshops the Agroforestry/ Sustainable Horticulture ethos is adhered to which means:

  • Increased planting of edible trees, shrubs and perennials locally helps organic matter build-up and soil sequestration promoting food soil bacteria/ fungi/ other soil micro-organisms
  • Sustainable use of natural resources – dramatically reduce volumes of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers so less harm to birds/ bees/ all wildlife
  • The use of local and heritage plants. Teaching people to value local species of plants. These protect local biodiversity as they support much higher levels of native species of wildlife than non-native plants. This in turn helps in the fight against climate change.

Increased numbers of local PEOPLE understanding how to promote local biodiversity levels by :

  • Equipping participants with the necessary skills and confidence to easily and simply grow their own long-term sources of food using plants which support local biodiversity, without the need for any form of chemical pesticide, herbicide, fungicide or chemical fertiliser.

Planting for biodiversity and keeping PROFITS local:

  • Teaching participants the importance of buying locally – both food and plants – to support local biodiversity as well as the local economy and local jobs.

PROJECT F: Explore the River Maigue by Kayak

Group: The Maigue  Rivers Trust

The Heritage Council kindly funded this project; there were two parts to it one involved a kayaking trip on the River Maigue and then some pond dipping during heritage week.

The kayak trip was run on the 23rd of June 2018. There was a morning and afternoon session, with 15 people going on each. Before the trip, there was a series of short talks on the flora and fauna that could be seen in the riparian zone-this included common invertebrates, fish, birds as well as common plant species. (People were warned about the dangers of Giant Hogweed, as it is an unfortunate feature in the catchment.) Then a coach arrived to take all the participants upstream to start kayaking. The company Nevsail provided the kayaks, wetsuits and instructors. Everyone then kayaked downstream towards Croom. People had the opportunity to experience the river in a different to that which they were used to. Some biodiversity highlights along the way included seeing a river bank that was being used by sand martin, see fish fry in the water, being able to see some spectacular flowering plants along the banks. It also gave people the opportunity to see the effect that drought can have on rivers. On some of the shallowest sections of the river, some kayaks were stuck and people had to get out and push. A highlight of the trip for many people was the opportunity to go over 3 small weirs.

The second part of the project happened during Heritage Week 2018, on the 25th and 26th of August. It was called “Discover the amazing underwater world of your local stream”. The Trust worked with Heritage in Schools expert Geoff Hunt, he facilitated four pond-dipping events across the weekend. On the Saturday they were run in Kilmallock and Hospital and on the Sunday (water heritage day in Lough Gur),  wildlife highlights included discovering healthy populations of white clawed cray fish, stone loach and stickle backs and even a lamprey. Adults and children were given the opportunity to discover the complicated life cycle of our freshwater invertebrates.

The positive biodiversity impact of the work

Education and awareness are the most important first steps in protecting biodiversity. Participants were able to have a very hands on and positive experience about biodiversity. The talks were made to brief very relevant only referring to flora and fauna that could possibly been seen along that stretch of river. The pond dipping helped to raise people’s awareness of their local biodiversity and the important role that good water quality plays in maintaining it.




This project is sponsored by Dublin Port Company