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Biodiversity

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biodiversity n the existance of a wide variety of plant and animal species in their natural environments

source: collins english dictionary [paperback edition]

Wikipedia goes a little more indept. I like the second sentence.

Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is one measure of the health of ecosystems.

To me and you what does it really mean…?

Some I know, have a rough idea that it’s a good green and in fashion buzz word to be aware of. But when quizzed on what, how or even further, what they can do as their little bit…. they honestly didn’t know. Doesn’t surprise me. Even I didn’t realise how biodiverse I already was.

The definitions are above…. but scroll down to the 10 things [below] you can do and you’ll really get a flavour for what it means and moreso what we as individuals can so simply do in any outdoors and in any season to help [y]our ecosystem.

What amazed me from feedback prior to writing this post and in reading up on that information given to me was the amount of Irish sites that either assume everyone understands what this is all about. Here’s the latest email….

Aparently butterfly numbers are up, or down Pete. I can’t remember. But I have no idea how they count them. I’ve less of an idea of what biodiversity is and how butterfly counting helps, or not!!

Sounds silly ? To some, maybe. But I can’t disagree with that. It is the reason I wrote this post and from here – with this as a basic basis post I can try and now delve a little deeper into the bigger picture.

Either or here’s the for starters post. Any questions or thoughts, just leave a comment below.

  • Plant a native tree this year – I did a list of Irelands native trees some time ago. The poll will tell you the most popular.
  • Put up a bird box – You can buy them but I perfer to make my own. How to put up and make your own bird box
  • Harvest rain water – This is really easy and you can buy them from most local councils with your bin tags and claim the tax back. Install a rainwater harvester
  • Water lawns and plants at night time that is, only if you really, really have to. Simple as it sounds. No link needed here. 

  • Allow some of your lawn or garden to grow wild– this is a great excuse for not cutting that part of the garden you don’t want to.
  • Make your own compost binI’m not a great fan of the plastic ones personally and I decided to build mine from some leftover timber.
  • Avoid using chemicals in your garden – once again, it’s a time and a money saver. Brilliant excuse for everything to look au natural
  • Build a log pile – it is as easy as it sounds. I simply stacked some dead branches that I pruned in a pile and forgot about them…. well, y’know what I mean
  • Grow a wildlife hedge – they’ll be back in fashion soon enough. Insects and wildlife can’t live on just vegetables and fruit….
  • Avoid petrol or electrical garden equipment – instead rake the leaves and use the old push mowers. Even better, you conserve your energy and get himself to do it

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Boyle Pleasure Grounds, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

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Without any doubt, this is one of the finest public parks I have ever visited in Ireland. It’s not massive. It’s not received too much notoriety, at least that I know of anyway. But for me it was an absolute gem as I searched for a quite spot to picnic.

In the park lies a statue-less monument where once stood King William.

D’Alton Annals of Boyle refer to ‘a statue of King William representing his majesty with a crown of Laurel on his head and the Order of the Garter on his knee’. When the new bridge was built in 1834, Viscount Lorton had the monument moved to the Pleasure Grounds. Later ,during the ‘Troubles’ in the early 1920’s, the statue was beheaded. Subsequently the rest of the statue was removed and now only the pedestal remains.

That aside, the park [n 1 a large area of open land for recreational use by the public] is one that I loved. It is very well laid out. The play ground is brilliant and was being used as were the basketball and soccer all weather pitches. I loved the plant choices, that were slightly unusual for a public park [They are generally of the brutal guaranteed to grow variety].  The layout was amazing. It sits right beside the water, has picnic benches and secluded seating, the layout and overall design. The list goes on….

The bits I didn’t like so much were the missing plants and the littered rubbish dotted around the waters side. That said and as public parks go – it is one of the better ones that I have been to in a long while. I would be really impressed and proud if something like this sat on my doorstep. Surprised it wasn’t used more and best of all – it’s free and it’s yours!

Lough Key Forest

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This actually comes under the [web] title of Lough Key Forest and Activity Park. Which includes a lot under its banner. I chose to go camping there for 4 days and try and experience as much as possible within the beautiful town of Boyle in Co. Roscommon. That’ll come later on the weblog.

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Lough Key camping

I arrived on a Thursday evening. The campsite reception was closed, but I had called in advance and so I just went ahead and pitched my tent. The next morning I went down paid my €22 per night. Overall the campsite is good. I chose it mainly because of the forest. There was a water tap nearby but that’s about as good as the right by your tent facilities got. Not a problem.

Whilst there were some queries over the cleanliness at the cooking and preparation facilities, more importantly and for those with kids, there are tumble dryers and washing machines in the main area [require tokens] and the showers [also token] were hot and clean as were the bathrooms and washing areas.

I liked the fact that the security man came by at night time to make sure no sticks were being burned from the forest and warning the dangers of. A more polite way for everyone to note that he was around.

The great thing about the forest surrounding the campsite really is the fact that one could go for a wander through the woods. For those with families this is a great way to keep the kids entertained and dry-er when the rain really does fall. There are many dry spots to be found under shelter from the trees. Whilst that was the ultimate for me and no one minds a tree that fell over or gave rebirth to another, it would have been nice if greater attention could be paid to the rubbish within the woods. That said the setting is brilliant.

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Activity Park

The activity park is an odd one depending on who you talk to. There is a €4 charge on the barriered car park which most avoid and simply park outside. For me it was simply a short walk from the campsite.

Inside there are options to pay for a tree canopy walk, an activity challenge called boda borg and a [paid] play ground. There is also a coffee shop/ restaurant.

On one hand if you are camping you get discount on these activities with a pass given from the camping reception. On the other, if you are on a budget it can easily mount up. That said whilst there is a free playground and picnic areas outside the children tell me the pay for play area is really good. Adults obviously go in free. The tree canopy walk I chose not to do but it also got good reports.

The reality is though that for me to come here for a weekend is one thing. The flip side is when it is right on your door step…. and on this fact alone I’m inclined to disagree with Lough Key on the €4 car park charge. They can say it goes to the forest maintenance – but I don’t know any park or outdoor variant in Dublin that charges for this.

The Forest Park and Lough

The walk through the surrounding park is brilliant. Brimmed with history, watching the boats, feeding the ducks… I could literally walk and sit here for days and if I were living in Boyle it would be free [apart from the car park of course].  But, from a campers point of view it is the reason I went there and for that alone I am so glad that I did.

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Overall

I thought it was great. Absolutely brilliant for families. Would I go again ? 110% in the morning. In fact I actually had that moment where I wanted to stay the extra night[s]. The down and upsides, were my little gripe with the car park. There is also the option to buy imported bottled water in the café but/ and at the same token there is free water in the coffee shop where they also supply free bread to feed the ducks.

The campsite needs a little tlc – but after that it is camping and it is amazing. As to the paid for activities, well I guess as long as you know in advance you now have an option to do or not to do so.

Either or Lough Key as always was made for me by the people I met, those who chose to sit and talk with me and of course the natural surrounding setting which are absolutely amazing. Go there. Visit. Camp. Stay. Lets the kids run wild. Run wild yourself while you are at it. I did. I loved it. I will return.

More to follow.

View more images of Lough Key Forest

Courtesy Wikipedia:

Situated just off the N4 is Lough Key Forest Park, a fantastic parkland area that has been tastefully revitalised by an addition of a Visitor Center and Activity Facilities including Boda Borg, a puzzle solving activity centre which is a Swedish concept originally unique to Irelandbut now has locations in Sweden and plans to expand Worldwide[7]. The park covers 800 acres (3.2 km²), and was formerly part of the Rockingham estate. The Moylurg Tower, standing on the site of the old Rockingham house, now stands overlooking the wonderful lake to the north and impressive lawns to the south. This was the seat of the Stafford-King-Harman[8] family until 1957, who at the end of the nineteenth century owned over 30,000 acres (120 km²) in north County Roscommon and County Sligo. The impressive Rockingham House itself was badly damaged in a fire in 1957 and was demolished in 1970.

There are many interesting islands on Lough Key. The impressive Castle Island is a well-known visual icon of this area. Trinity Island contains the ruins of a chapel, linked to the Cistercian monastery in the town. There are two trees growing on the island with interlinked branches, said to mark the graves of Una Bhan Mac Diarmid and Tomas Laidir Mac Coisdealbhaigh, two ill-fated lovers, celebrated in the poem Una BhanUna Bhan is a standard text on the Irish school curriculum.

Bird Boxes

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The bird box has always been something I’ve queried. I don’t know why. I just feel/ felt that they would always be better off making their own. Is that fair to say….? Either or, I wanted two in the garden just for the craic of it. You know, to see would they come.

These two bird boxes were made some weeks ago from an old timber wine box and given a lick of whatever colour was nearest/ lying around paint.

Fairly simple to make, they are also another variation of if I got these as a gift would I be impressed ? You better believe it. I’ve seen sites selling these for upwards of €30 each.

My Total Costs. €0.00

If you fancy having a go making them yourself… bear in mind, the bird really doesn’t care if you have not been meticulous in your efforts and from your aesthetic perspective, depending on your skills, a lick of paint will hide everything a lot.

The only things I really need to be careful of is that the box itself isn’t south facing. Logic applies here so you don’t cook the birds. Other than that its keep it about 2-3 metres off the ground and although there are site suggestions of when you should put them up…. I’m not going to pay any attention to that. If the winter guys wanna nest in them, it’s there for the taking. If not they’ll be there for the summer fella’s.

The only note I will make is not to tighten the screws too much so you can flip them over and tip out the previous years unwanted nest.

I could give instructions on how these were made, but the photos say it all pretty much.

More birds to help me eat my raspberries next year 😀

note: Highly recommendthe birdwatch Ireland fact sheet

10 Green Questions With Comedian Paddy Courtney

I met with Paddy Courtney in Portmarnock recently. Anything for the great outdoors is always my attitude and when I realised I could ask Paddy my 10 new green questions and also have a giggle at the same time I was all for it.

The other reality is that I really like what 7up are doing in the context of the great outdoors. Makes me want to make my own list…. either or you have to admit it’s encouraging in the context of get outside and have a laugh😉 Here’s the deal…

Basically 7Up Free have gotten Paddy Courtney, to head out on a Roadtrip to uncover 7 things you have to do before the summer is out; it’s like a Bucket List for a summer in Ireland. Paddy’s going to be trying out everything from wakeboarding to surfing, from horse riding to abseiling, if it’s fun, he’s trying it.

They are also running competitions on the site over the next few weeks to win all sorts of prizes including a deluxe BBQ with a performance by Paddy in your house, Polaroid Pogos and cocktail shakers.  All you have to do is go onto the 7up website and submit your story. They are also on Facebook.

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