Galway City Draft Biodiversity Action Plan Offers Great Hope for Wildlife Protections

As a community representative on Galway City Council-led environmental partnership committees, I  spent the last few hours reviewing the Draft Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013.
What a wonderful progressive document that if implmented would do much to protect widlife in Galway City.

 The key parts of the Plan is to appoint a full-time Biodiversity Officer supported by a Biodiversity Forum comprising all relevant stakeholders to oversee the implementation of the Biodiversity Action Plan, that will include an up-to-date biodiversity audit that is monitored and reviewed on a regular basis.
In the interim whilst waiting for the appointment of a Biodiversity Officer, the draft report recommends the designation of the duties of such an office by the City Manager to an existing member of staff.

I have just sent my recommendation on how the Plan can be improved to Eleanor Hough, one of the Community reps on the Recreational and Amenity Special Policy Committee(SPC) that is meeting tomorrow to discuss the document tomorrow.

1. The interim Biodiversity Officer must be assigned within the first year of the Plan or even this year (2012). This office should have the authority to set up a working group with City Hall that includes a membership drawn from all the relevant departments/offices: Parks, Environment, Transport, Planning, Heritage, Community Development and the Arts.

2. The meetings of the Biodiversity Forum must be held at least twice a year.
3. The Action Plan must have a realistic and itemised timescale of what specific actions are to be achieved each year.
4. The recommendations of the Galway City Habitat Inventory as voted by Galway City Council in May 2006 should be included in the Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013.
5. The existing Local Biodiversity Areas as listed in the Galway City Habitat Inventory and in the Galway City Development Plan should be included in the Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013.
6. The creation of Ecological Corridors to overcome habitat fragmentation should be stated as a key priority of the Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013.
7. The identification and development of specific Ecological Corridors should also be included as a key element of the Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013
8. The development of specific Greenways (e.g. Woodquay/Dyke Road to Menlo Park via the Terryland Forest Park/Castlegar village/Ballindooley) should be listed as a key outcome of the Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013.
9. The protection and rebuilding of a network of hedgerows and traditional dry stone walls should be a key objective of Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013.

Other Recommendations to be included in the Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2013.
10. The implementation of an annual native tree and bulb planting programme involving the local community and schools sectors.
11. Establish Biodiversity Protection/Enhancement Awards within the annual Mayoral Awards.
12. Establish an annual Galway City Biodiversity Festival involving schools, third-level colleges, neighbourhoods, NGOs and other relevant sectors of society. This event could include neighbourhood harvest fests, nature walks, heritage tours etc. This festival could be part of an existing environmental or heritage festival.

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