Monday 22 April 2019 is Earth Day. Earth Day is an international coming together  of environmental activists to highlight environmental issues and educate people about efforts they can make to help the environment. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes events in more than 193 countries. On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by more than 120 other countries. The theme for Earth Day 2019 is Protect Our Species. Reduction of global plant and wildlife populations are directly linked to impacts from human activity such as climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, unsustainable agriculture and pollution.

According to the World Wildlife Federation’s Living Planet Report 2018, an overall decline of 60% in species population sizes has been recorded between 1970 and 2014.

“Exploding human consumption is the driving force behind the unprecedented planetary change we are witnessing, through the increased demand for energy, land and water. While climate change is a growing threat, the main drivers of biodiversity decline continue to be the overexploitation of species, agriculture and land conversion.”- WWF Living Planet Report 2018

Biodiversity is the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat and has been described as the “infrastructure” that supports all life on earth. Restoring habitats is a simple and effective way to restore biodiversity. This can be done by planting wildflowers or trees or cleaning up green spaces. One example of the impact that cleaning outdoor areas can have is the beach clean up that took place in Mumbai from 2015. A team of volunteers came together to carry out the largest beach clean up in the world. Over 119 consecutive weeks, they removed 12,000 tonnes of plastic from the 3km stretch of Versova Beach. As a result of this massive clean up, Olive Ridley turtles returned to the beach for the first time in decades and 80 hatchlings were recorded in 2018.

Oliver Ridley Turtle Hatchlings, Versova Beach 2018

In Ireland, a number of species are under threat primarily due to decline in habitat quality and loss of habitat. The National Parks & Wildlife Service compile red lists to highlight species at risk. A red list was compiled for butterfly populations in Ireland. It stated that 18% of the native Irish butterfly fauna is under threat of extinction and a further 15% is near threatened.

We wanted to highlight the number of threatened species in Ireland and spread awareness of the importance of biodiversity in shaping the future of our planet. To spread this message and celebrate Earth Day, we have launched our Introduction to Solar Farms primary school presentation and have sent plantable wildflower seed cards to a number of primary schools located near our fully consented sites. Solar farms provide a number of opportunities to improve biodiversity. Solar farms are quiet meadow-like spaces and only a small amount of the ground is actually occupied by the solar farm leaving lots of room for biodiversity! There are a number of ways to increase and improve biodiversity on solar farms – you can learn more about this in the presentation below.

As a leading solar developer, we believe that education is a key component of our work and necessary for the progression of the solar industry. We are already engaged in a four year partnership with Edinburgh Science‘s Generation Science Programme and continue to explore opportunities to engage young minds and spread education and awareness of the solar industry.

“Since entering a partnership with Generation Science, Elgin Energy has focused on increasing our educational engagement. We are aware of a number of school initiatives in Ireland encouraging green practices and introducing children to the realities of climate change. We hope that our campaign will complement these programmes and introduce children to the basics of solar PV.”  – Ronan Kilduff, Managing Director, Elgin Energy

Instructions for planting seed cards:

  1. Soak the seed card overnight.
  2. Cut the card into pieces and cover with soil (1cm deep). Soak the soil and place it in a warm and bright location.
  3. Water it every day ensuring the paper is always wet.
  4. In a few days, depending on the weather and the season, the plants will start to germinate.
  5. Once germinated, place the plant in a window or in the great outdoors.

For mobile devices, please view the presentation here.

Bees are a keystone species

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