Happy National Biodiversity Week!

Category : Kieran Cowhig

As we begin to leave behind the wetter, colder months of the year, many of us are now beginning to venture outside once more, becoming closer to the natural world around us. The bees are busy back at work pollinating, the Hawthorn trees are now in full bloom and the main Salmon run is underway in many of our rivers.  It’s a great time of year to be an ecologist! 

Wildlife, nature  or,  as it is most often called today, biodiversity, is the variety of life that lives on this planet. Biodiversity provides us with so many benefits, known as  ecosystem services, that we often overlook. Where would we be if it were not for the pollinators doing the hard work to ensure we have abundant supplies of food?  How long would we last if it were not for the plants that produce the oxygen we breathe?  (how long can you hold your breath?) Every day biodiversity provides us so many services that we often take for granted. 

It is important that as a society we take a moment now and then to tip our hats to biodiversity and reflect on all it gives us. This week is the perfect opportunity to do just this as National Biodiversity Week is upon us. Kicking off on the 17th May, the programme runs until the 26th May with a schedule jam packed with free and exciting events all across the country aiming to bring you closer to nature.

As I read through the list of events, I am reminded of many of the courses I have been involved with creating and delivering with Veri Connect over the years. As we all reflect on nature this week. I am taking a moment to reflect on how fortunate I have been to be able to do what I love, teaching people about nature.   

This is always a busy time  of year for us at Veri Connect as we gear up to deliver biodiversity courses to communities all across the country. My role as a trainer started a few years ago with a water biodiversity course we ran in Connemara with the help of Forum Connemara and LAWPRO. That course was a huge success where we trained 220 community members in relation to water biodiversity and water quality. It laid the foundations for the many courses that were to follow. Since then we have grown as a team and have gone on to work on some amazing projects. 

We have worked with 19 Leader companies across the country delivering training to communities in relation to  sustainability, terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity, invasive species management and seed saving. We worked on a first of its kind project called Wild Work which trained 1000 online users and 600 blended learners (in person and online) in Cavan, West Limerick,  and South and West Cork. This hugely ambitious project trained participants in biodiversity ,citizen science, wellbeing and community engagement through experiential learning. In 2023  we adapted this style of experiential training for 5th and 6th class students in schools across county Cork.   

In response to growing climate change concerns, we created our own Lantra accredited course Climate Action 101 which was designed to help businesses understand the various environmental challenges we face today and guide them to take actions that will have real impact. It has been a great success so far with businesses such as Red Mills, CF Pharma, Danske Bank, New Park hotel all passing through the programme. We have also worked with the Local Authorities nation-wide to deliver training to outdoor staff on Climate Action. In recent times we have worked with ESB to develop and deliver their Advanced Sustainability program to train their staff, 6000 users online and 300 leadership team members, in topics like Climate Change literacy, sustainability in the workplace, circular economy, sustainable procurement and supply chain. 

Those are just some of the big projects we have had the pleasure of working on over the last few years and we are still helping our clients to push the boundaries with new course concepts such as the very popular rainwater harvesting course which drew big crowds in Louth earlier this year or the upcoming course working with Churches in DLR who have asked parishes to set aside 30% of their land for rewilding and other environmental projects aimed at supporting biodiversity. It has been a great journey over this last few years and I can’t wait to see where we end up next.

If you would like our help to get your projects up and running, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can also check out our training hub to see what kind of training we offer. If you would like to learn more about events running during national biodiversity week check out this link here

Resources https://biodiversityweek.ie