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Local leadership needed for nature

The swallows had finally made their way up, through the changing hills, and into my shed.

They are early risers and I was listening to their chattering calls, as the sun broke over the countryside. In the nearby field, I could hear the call of the cuckoo, and there was at least two calling males. From the outside, all appears well in the natural world. But along every hedgerow, in our gardens and parks, wildlife is facing massive challenges.

This sombre reflection comes from reading the recent UN declaration that because of human activities, over one million species worldwide, are facing extinction. This is a sobering warning that all is not well in the natural world. In our own communities, we are becoming more aware that there are not as many small birds around and that once common insects like, butterflies and bees, are fast disappearing.

Being aware of global challenges is important. But local leadership, and projects are needed that can have a real positive impact around helping nature in our communities.

Over the last two years An Taisce Living Limerick has reached out to the community, with over 100 free nature events. Workshops on wildlife gardening, seed saving, bat and moth nights, bug hunting, planting trees for climate change, and mindfulness have all helped educate people, develop skills and knowledge to help wildlife, in a fun and engaging manner. ,

The project is co-ordinated by Sean Hartigan, who is a green party candidate, for Limerick City East, in the upcoming local elections. Sean believes that we need a strong green voice on the council, and if elected, he will work hard to ensure that environmental as well as social issues are to the fore in meetings and planning. The formation of a strategic planning committee around nature and the environment is also high on the agenda.

This would give focus and energy to the many challenges facing the environment.

These concerns have been expressed to Sean, on many doorsteps, while he is busy canvassing, across the constituency. The dangers facing our environment are a major worry; from loss of wildlife to sustainable transport. With many scientists repeating that we have less than a generation to change our ways, the upcoming elections are an opportunity not to be missed.

Sean is also a leaf officer and is passionate about educating students and supporting teachers to discover the natural world.

Recently the students for Ahane National School, took the journey, out to Curraghchase Forest Park to learn about forests and their wildlife.

While every group is a different experience, Sean tries to give them a wide introduction to, and experience of, nature. The staff and students from Ahane National School had a fun and educational day, learning about the importance of trees, birds, flowers and insects.

Sean helped them to identify the different species, from oak to alder. They also discovered about the different creatures that live in the trees.

He explained that at this time of the year, birds are busy building their nests, and the parents will gather caterpillars, from the leaves, to feed to their chicks.

By the edge of the pond, the wildflower edge had attracted several species of bees, and Sean works hard to help kids overcome their fear of these important creatures. He encouraged the school to plant more trees for wildlife and also leave long areas of grass for pollinators.

Upcoming event

Living Limerick. Wednesday 22. 8.30pm-10.30pm. Join Sean Hartigan and Albert Nolan for a bat and moth walk in the University of Limerick. Meet at the boat house and wear warm clothes. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult.

We will discover the hidden and amazing world of these creatures of the night.

For More or 089 4230502. Albert is also available to do walk/talks with schools, tidy towns, youth and community groups

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