What is Biodiversity ?
In simple terms “biodiversity” includes all the variety of life on Earth. It is the diversity of nature, of our habitats, plants, and animals (including us) and their interconnections with each other. We are a part of nature and everything in nature is connected.
Think of all the different species and places on our planet as threads in a net, the more threads that intertwine, the stronger the net. The stronger the net, the better nature can provide for us and cope with threats such as Climate Change.
What treasures are beneath the surface ! Our marine life
We usually don't think of whole different world beneath this shiny veneer of our marine waters, with its own mountains, racing currents, valleys, cliffs and living creatures including, plants and animals. These waters are full of fascinating life that often goes unnoticed to all of us above shore as we pass by on our beach or pier walks and on our boat trips around the bay or as we admire the coastal views from higher ground at Killiney Obellisk and Sorrento Park.
Sometimes called the ‘flowers of the sea’, sea anemones are actually beautiful animals, closely related to jellyfish and corals that occur in our marine waters. Sea urchins, a marine invertebrate and grazer of algae such as seaweed can also be found here.
Marine mammals such as harbour porpoise, common seal and grey seal can be seen around Dalkey Island and in the Dún Laoghaire harbours. Bottlenosed dolphins, minke, fin and killer whales, Risso’s and common dolphins have all been recorded in the marine waters around Dún Laoghaire Rathdown.The three species that regularly occur in our marine waters are harbour porpoise, grey seal and bottle-nosed dolphin.
Some interesting habitats occur on Dalkey Island including; dry grassland, rock outcrops, wet grassland, dense bracken, sea cliffs, rocky shores, inter-tidal and submerged zones All of these habitats contribute to the unique wild and isolated character of the islands that everyone enjoys. A number of rare plants have been recorded from the grassland on the islands in recent decades.
Our Bird life
Our varied coastline from Dublin bay, Booterstown Marsh, Dalkey Islands and all the way to Shanganagh Cliffs provide breeding habitats for birds during the summer. Terns, gulls and shelduck breed on Dalkey Island, sand martin on Shanganagh cliffs, black guillemots at the harbour, Kingfisher along our rivers and streams to name a few. Dalkey Islands is home to interesting bird species including EU protected tern species and so the islands form a designated EU Natura 2000 site called Dalkey Islands Special Protection Area (SPA), which is specifically designated for Roseate Tern, Common Tern and Arctic Tern. The islands are a summer breeding site and a staging site for the terns. DLR work with Birdwatch Ireland to manage and protect the tern populations.In winter coastal areas provide roosting and foraging habitats for large numbers of wintering birds including species such as Light-bellied brent geese, oystercatcher, ringed plover, grey plover, knot, sanderling, dunlin, bar-tailed godwit, redshank, curlew, turnstone, little Egret and heron. Booterstown Marsh is a very important area for our wintering birds and provides valuable habitat for roosting and feeding for birds. Some of our important birds move further inland from the coast to roost and feed, for example, Light-bellied Brent Geese that feed on our parks and pitches.
Biodiversity across our lands
Moving landward and across the county we find important wildlife corridors, important local habitats and other nationally or internationally protected habitats and species that form the basis of our land biodiversity. As an urban county and one of the smallest counties in Ireland, our biodiversity is competing with a lot of land uses. The more we know about our biodiversity, the better we can protect and enhance it, for everyone. The greater benefits we can get from biodiversity (also known as ecosystem services). We have a variety of habitats such as saltmarsh, semi-natural grasslands, native woodlands, hedgerows, wetlands such as fens, bog, heath, rivers, streams and springs. All of these habitats add to the diversity of nature across our county along with our pollinator areas and trees in our parks and other green spaces.
And of course our important, protected, native species such as red squirrel in Killiney Hill, otter found in our streams and river systems, badgers that occur in various areas across the county, hedgehogs that quietly shuffle through our gardens looking for food, bat species that skim across our treelines, hedgerows and streams in search of insects, birds that fill our local areas with song along with the sound of swifts and swallows filling the skies during summer.
We can give biodiversity a fighting chance against climate change and in turn biodiversity can help us to become more resilient to climate change, but only if we look after it.
For more information see our DLR Biodiversity Tour Booklet here: https://bit.ly/dlrBioBooklet
DLR Biodiversity Officer