Biodiversity’s vital role in food production system


May 14th, 2019

The vital role played by biodiversity in our food production system is set to be highlighted during a week-long celebration of our unique flora and fauna.

National Biodiversity Week (NBW) starts this weekend with a host of over 50 free events set to take place across the country.

events will take place over nine days from the 18th to the 26th
of May and aim to celebrate Irish biodiversity as well as reconnect people with
the natural world.

Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health; the theme for this year aims to remind us that we
truly rely on biodiversity to feed ourselves and to stay healthy.

sustains our food supply, is a source of medicines, and supports the provision
of clean air and fresh water while also contributing to economic development,
cultural inspiration and positive mental health.

may become more difficult in the future with our biodiversity in a place of
crisis as revealed in depth by the new IPBES report released last week found one
million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction.

does not bode well for human either as our pollinators – the backbone of crop
and plant existence – face the possibility of mass extinction.

70 of the 100-odd crop species that we rely on to provide over 90 per cent of
the food we eat are dependent on pollination by bees. In Ireland, one third of
the 97 types of Irish wild bees are threatened by extinction.

A study published in the journal Biological Conservation earlier this year found that global insect populations – including bees and butterflies – are collapsing largely as a result of intensive agriculture and the heavy use of pesticides.

Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

to Michael Ewing, the coordinator of the Irish Environmental Network, the “bad behavior”
of human beings is “driving millions of species into extinction”.

so doing we are plotting the course of our own extinction too,” he warned. “Our
food production, healthy soils, fresh water and clean air are all maintained in
delicate balance by the complexity of biodiversity.”

added, however, that food production systems that conserve and encourage
biodiversity can produce higher yields and support crops which are naturally
more resistant to climatic extremes and diseases.

moves are taking hold in Ireland through the likes of Talamh Beo, a grassroots
farmers movement formed in Galway earlier this year and aims to explore how
ecosystems and people can live alongside each other.

food production was recently discussed as a key component of rebooting
Ireland’s food system and addressing runaway emissions by 2030 at the Make
Sustainable For All conference in Croke Park.

Coulaud, co-coordinator of NBW 2019, said that the week is an opportunity to
discover animals and plants present in Ireland and to become aware that “these
same species may disappear one day”.

choice we make every day impacts our world, negatively or positively, National Biodiversity
Week is a perfect opportunity to show how we can contribute to a better world
with our actions,” she added.

See for yourself by checking out the events below:

Walk on Mountfallen Biodiversity Farm – 22 May

biodiversity farmer Tommy Earley is opening up his organic farm in and
showcasing his work in nature conservation for all ages.

walk takes place at 10.30am and 2.30pm – it will include a look at the unique
habitats there such as raised boglands, and woodland as well as a look at
moths, butterflies and dragonflies.

More details here.

Life above Land: Creating a habitat for pollinators – 22 and
25 May

bees are such a crucial part of our ecosystem and are facing such a severe
threat at the moment, it’s important to know how to create a home for our furry
little friends.

event in Cloughjordan Ecovillage in Tipperary will explore
how to do just that – as well as incorporate a lesson in the healing benefits
of herbs.

Kicking off at 11am will be a nature trail walk in the sensory and medical gardens, followed by a talk Davie Philips of Cultivate about the Sustainable Development Goal number 15 – Life on Land.

More details here.

International Biodiversity Day – 19 May

From 12-5pm in the Organic Centre Rossinver Co. Leitrim, there will be a a day of guest speakers, demonstrations, food and children’s workshops all in order to raise awareness of Irish biodiversity.

Guest speakers and demonstrations on the day, including Biodiversity Champion Thomas Earley,  John Carey Agri Ecologist, National Parks and Wildlife Service,  Karen Kennedy, Community Water Officer & Dr Agnieszka Piwowarczyk, Soil scientist.

More details here.

Biodiversity Tour at Irish Seed Savers – 18 May

This year as part of
National Biodiversity Week Irish Seed Savers will be hosting a Biodiversity
Tour to showcase our vital conservation work on Saturday 18th May at 11:00am

This FREE guided tour will
highlight the importance of protecting Ireland’s food biodiversity and heritage
apple trees throughout our twenty acre farm.

The tour will focus on our
organic seed gardens, heritage orchards and our custom built seed bank that
houses our seed collection, showing how our work contributes to conserving
Ireland’s biodiversity and food security.

Please bring sturdy boots and appropriate clothing depending on the weather.

More details here.

By Marianne Foody

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