Pippa Hackett in Geashill Village.

Offaly can lead the way on biodiversity says Green candidate

Offaly County Council should lead the way and implement some of the 30 actions in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan this year, according to Green Party local election candidate Pippa Hackett.

“There seems to have been a spate of hedge cutting and tree felling all over the country this past couple of months, and County Offaly has not escaped. I’ve seen recent trees felled in Cloneygowan and Rhode, many hedges butchered, and some even removed. This is not what we should be doing in the midst of an ecological crisis. Many of our insects, birds, and other wildlife are under great challenge, and some of their numbers are at their lowest ever.

“The national pollinator plan was first launched by the National Biodiversity Centre Data Centre in 2015, and is under continued review. It is available to view from www.pollinators.ie, and is packed with simple ideas and suggestions on improving our environement for wildlife. And it’s not just for county councils, the plan also targets schools, churches, businesses, farmers, and local communities.

“This might mean Offaly County Council setting aside areas to be managed for wildlife, and not using pesticides. It might also mean delaying mowing until mid-April, which would allow wild food plants such as the dandelion to flower, and provide much needed early nutrition for insects like bumblebees. These actions would save taxpayers money too. 

“It might mean local school children learning about our natural world, and planting seeds, bulbs and flowers. It might mean your local church allowing sections of their grounds to grow and rewild, and in doing so they will be joining a growing eco-congregation in Ireland. It might mean local businesses engaging in nature friendly activities on their premises, and it might mean Offaly farmers leaving their hedgerows to grow a bit longer next season, providing a home and food and shelter to birds and other small creatures, many of which are struggling to stay alive.

“Imagine if every village and town in Offaly was a nature friendly one? It might mean planting more trees and flowers, and making more use of otherwise unused wasteland areas. It would not only benefit our wildlife but the communities and families living there.

“It might mean that more visitors and tourists chose to visit Co Offaly, spend their money here, perhaps even stay a night or two. It might mean that more businesses and more homes come to our towns and villages. People thrive in vibrant communities, and vibrant communities need appropriate services, facilities and amenities. It is a vital that Offaly County Council works effectively and efficiently to make this happen.

“We have some wonderful community led examples from around the county, top of the list being my local village of Geashill, which has been the recipient of a number of tidy town and pollinator awards in recent years. Offaly has much potential to develop in this area. All it needs is the proper leadership and support from its county council.  Community spirit will do the rest," concluded Ms Hackett, who is running in the Edenderry Electoral Area.