Wildlife Strategy Overview Prepared by Calvin Jones, Ireland’s Wildlife
email@example.com | www.irelandswildlife.com
Natural spaces are a crucial component of our urban and suburban landscapes. Managed properly they can provide areas for wildlife to thrive, and offer a calming counterbalance to the hustle and bustle of urban living. Increasingly studies in Ireland and internationally show that spending time in these outdoor spaces, maintaining our connection with the natural world around us, is vital to our physical wellbeing and mental health.
Sustainable Skibbereen recognises the importance of well-managed natural spaces, and the imperative for a coordinated approach to preserving and enhancing biodiversity in and around the town. Through the Wildlife Group the organisation is putting together a High Level Wildlife Strategy for the town, which aims to identify specific high-value wildlife projects around Skibbereen, and to ensure that regular maintenance and ongoing development around the town happens in a wildlife-friendly way.
Stream 1: Assessment and monitoring
In order to preserve and enhance something, you first need to understand what you already have. So a natural first step in establishing a wildlife strategy for Skibbereen is to examine the wildlife assets already present in and around the town, explore opportunities to preserve and enhance those, and identify new areas where a more wildlife centric approach will offer the most effective impact for both wildlife and the community.
The Assessment and Monitoring stream will be the first to start, but it’s important to note that this is not a one-time endeavour. Monitoring should be an ongoing part of the town’s wildlife strategy moving forward.
This stream will include:
- A qualitative assessment of key wildlife habitats in the skibbereen area, pinpointing areas of high wildlife value and potential
- An overview of current management practices for public outdoor spaces in the town, with a view to establishing more wildlife-friendly alternatives wherever appropriate
- Identification of areas of both public and private land in and around the town that could potentially be developed/maintained as wildlife amenity areas
- Identification of key challenges for wildlife and biodiversity in the town, with suggestions on how to minimise their impact wherever possible.
It will not include a comprehensive survey of species occurring in the area at this time.
While a species list is important, and establishes a baseline against which we can measure the success of wildlife initiatives, flag potential areas of wildlife concern and identify noteworthy species that may need special attention, it falls outside the scope of this initial strategic assessment. Developing a comprehensive species list will form a key part of the strategy emerging from this process, ideally involving local schools, community volunteers, local enthusiasts and experts with links to the town/region.
Stream 2: Core Wildlife Projects
This stream focuses on taking the outcomes of the Assessment and Monitoring stream, and using them to identify a suite of core wildlife projects that the group can focus on. These will include both site-specific projects (developing a particular location as a wildlife amenity, for example), or initiatives with a broader scope that encourage wildlife-friendly management practices across the town’s public and private spaces (developing a pollinator corridor, or town-wide hedgerow management guidelines, for example).
With finite resources, the key here is to prioritise high-potential projects that can yield maximum value (for both wildlife and people) making the most efficient use of available resources.
This stream will include:
- The identification of a core suite of wildlife projects to be implemented as part of the Sustainable Skibbereen wildlife strategy
- Recommendations for best practice to achieve the desired outcome for wildlife and people
- Identification of key stakeholders for each project listed
Stream 3: Communication & Engagement
One of the most critical aspects of developing a wildlife strategy is communication and engagement. Ensuring people are aware of what the group is proposing, and how it will benefit the town is fundamental to getting local buy-in to the concept, attracting volunteers to help with wildlife projects and ongoing monitoring work, and encouraging people to do their bit for wildlife on their own private Skibbereen patch.
Collectively private gardens represent a significant chunk of available habitat in Skibbereen. Engaging with local people to promote a more wildlife friendly approach in their own gardens has the potential to dramatically improve the overall wildlife value of the town.
This stream will include:
- A strategic media plan to communicate the group’s objectives and achievements over time (traditional national and local media as well as social media and other online channels)
- Recommendations for the development of a network of interpretive wildlife signage and notices around the town at key wildlife sites.
- Development of an information/promotional guide to Skibbereen’s wildlife suitable for locals and tourists, featuring key species and locations with a map and tips to help visitors see more wildlife.
At the end of this initial strategic consultation Sustainable Skibbereen will have a coordinated Wildlife Strategy Document that can be used as a reference to enhance the wildlife value of the town moving forward. The strategy will help the group make wildlife-friendly management decisions in relation to the ongoing maintenance of the town’s public spaces, help improve biodiversity in public and private spaces across the town and identify a core suite of wildlife projects that will deliver maximum wildlife benefit.
Having a central coordinated wildlife strategy will allow Skibbereen to establish a stable foundation as a wildlife-friendly town — a foundation it can build on, year-on-year, for everyone’s benefit.