Wildlife, habitats and natural amenities: a 5-year plan

The area under consideration (see map Ref x) is about 6 kilometres (km) West-South-West of Cork City. It’s located in the 2km of National Grid Reference W66D and 50% of Grid Reference W66E covering an area of about 6km².


North – by the Curraheen Road (L2222)
South and East – by the Waterfall Road (L2203)
West – by L2225 and L2220


Locally, little is known about the biodiverse nature of our community – its wildlife, habitat and natural amenities. It’s important that we raise awareness and assess biodiversity within our community. If there’s a decline, we need to reverse it.  

We want to:

    • examine the current state of biodiversity in Ballinora
    • investigate how we can highlight the current situation
    • preserve existing biodiversity
    • increase local interest and involvement in the wildlife, habitat and natural amenities of our community

Initially, some of our planned activities and objectives will be beyond the competence of the local TidyTowns team and other local interested parties. We’ll consult outside agencies to provide training and education for Ballinora National School (the school) and interested local parties. This will help us to get the knowledge and experience we need to successfully complete this five-year plan and reduce our reliance on outside expertise.

We’ll prepare habitat maps to Fossitt Level 2 for the district, as well as selecting a habitat to be mapped to Fossitt Level 3 in the first year of this plan.

The school and local community will be involved in the project on an ongoing basis. The farming community will be surveyed to gauge their potential involvement and interest in general nature conservation. 

Our findings will help us write our Biodiversity Action Plan. The action plan will be written in the first year of our plan and will be updated as new information becomes available. 

Our five-year plan is informed by:

Other considerations

    • EU requirements to reverse any decline in biodiversity, the food web and the efficient functioning of the ecosystem
    • Minor adjustments to farmland management can cost the farmer little while benefiting wildlife considerably
    • Farmland habitats are in decline. We need to monitor changes and highlight the consequences
    • Conserving nature means good habitat management

The five-year plan is subject to:

    • available funding
    • availability of local interest, expertise and involvement
    • availability of experts to provide technical input and guidance to implement the various projects
    • local landowner involvement and permission to access their property 

If circumstances change, we’ll update this plan to reflect them.

YEAR 1: 2020

    • Continue construction and monitoring of bug hotels, bat and bird boxes and locate them at appropriate sites and advise on cleaning procedures for bird and bat boxes
    • Continue to identify locations for planting appropriate pollen-producing trees, shrubs and annuals to make sure continuous production of pollen in accordance with the issued plant list to align with The All Ireland Pollen Plan 2016 to 2020
    • Continue involvement of the school in Biodiversity. For example, Green Flag initiatives both in the school and the local area at large
    • Continue to increase expertise by involving outside agencies. For example, Cork County Council, SECAD and The Bride Project and other institutions in training and education in the school and for local interested residents
    • Continue to raise awareness in the school and community about the richness of nature on our doorstep by arranging talks and walks by experts
    • Locate, identify and treat or eradicate invasive plant species under the direction of an appropriate authority
    • Prepare digital habitat maps from within our area of interest to Fossitt Level 2 with one selected habitat to Fossitt Level 3
    • Identify and preserve existing wildlife areas
    • Initiate training programme to increase local and school involvement in biodiversity activities to include species identification and reporting
    • Erect signage to identify the location and nature of the habitats
    • Provide training on habitat mapping and species identification to local interested parties and introduce the Schools Heritage Programme to the school
    • Establish baseline data for flora and fauna, within the habitat mapped to Fossitt Level 3
    • Identify indicator species within the habitats, recording their increase or decrease over time to indicate the health of the habitat over the period of the plan
    • Develop a preliminary wildlife conservation plan in consultation with the school and other interested parties
    • Publish initial findings, on our website, about the identified habitats and continue to invite local residents to become involved in the bio project

YEAR 2: 2021

    • Review the outcome of year 1 of the five-year plan
    • Continue to map habitats to Fossitt Level 3 and put up signage
    • Review wildlife conservation plan and adjust if needed
    • Survey local landowners to establish their views and interests on wildlife and non-agricultural land on their farms. For example,  hedgerows, marsh areas, riverbanks, and their concern for wildlife conservation
    • Provide landowners with advice (from an appropriate authority) on the likely consequences for flora and fauna and general wildlife resulting from their farm management practices
    • Continue to plant pollen-producing plants following the All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2017 to 2020
    • Establish species baseline data for all habitats mapped to Fossitt Level 3 in 2020 and plan accordingly
    • Arrange for talks and walks – with the appropriate authorities – to study and inform on local habitats and biodiversity
    • Continue the programme to increase local involvement in biodiversity activities
    • Consider the purchase of a camera for a bird box
    • Incorporate a biodiversity trail with the walking trails already in the parish
    • Update and publish details of progress, on our website, on habitat mapping and other items of note about the biodiversity project

YEAR 3: 2022

    • Draw up a biodiversity plan with interested landowners on the basis of the 2020 survey
    • Continue to monitor and evaluate the quality of the mapped habitats and publish the results
    • Take action appropriate to the findings of the evaluation of the habitats
    • Continue to monitor and record the occupation of bird and bat boxes
    • Plant up identified gaps within hedgerows with appropriate plants (with the permission of the landowner) following the recommendations of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2017 to 2020
    • Purchase bat monitoring equipment and train volunteers to use it. Conduct a local bat survey
    • Provide training for the school and interested parties – by an appropriate authority – on the identification of various bat species
    • Continue education and training on biodiversity topics in the school and for interested locals
    • Continue to publish results, on our website, of progress on the biodiversity project

YEAR 4: 2023

    • Implement biodiversity plan with interested landowners
    • Arrange talks in the school and the district on subjects highlighted by the progress of our biodiversity plan
    • Participate in various surveys. For example,  BirdWatch Ireland survey, Bat Conservation Ireland‘s surveys. These may complement the five-year plan

YEAR 5: 2024

    • Follow up on the progress of the previous four years of the plan and correct any slippage if needed
    • Consider the reach of biodiversity beyond the area covered by the five-year plan
    • Publish the findings of the five-year plan and rollover items that have not been finished. If needed, continue with a revised plan based on the information gathered over the five-year