Biodiversity is hugely important to us all; it provides functioning ecosystems that supply oxygen, clean air and water, pollination of plants, pest control, wastewater treatment and many ecosystem services. Also, many recreational pursuits rely on our unique biodiversity, such as birdwatching, hiking, camping and fishing.
A Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) addresses threatened species and habitats, and is designed to protect and restore biological systems. Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council have recently produced a revised 5-year LBAP for their area, in order to initiate a series of actions designed to conserve and enhance habitats and species that are of international, national and regional importance, but also habitats and species that are of local significance within the Council area. It also aims to educate and raise awareness of the importance and variety of biodiversity found within our Borough, and to encourage local ownership.
The Plan is part of the commitment made by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to fulfil its Biodiversity Duty under the WANE Act, and also to work towards achieving the mission of
the most recent Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy which is “to make progress towards halting overall biodiversity loss, establish an ecosystem approach and help business and society in general have a greater understanding of the benefits that nature can bring to everyday life in Northern Ireland”.
The key elements in it include; an inventory of biological information for key species and habitats; an assessment of the conservation status of species within specified ecosystems, the creation of targets for conservation and restoration; and established timelines and partnerships for implementing the Plan.
We employed a consultant to undertake a biodiversity audit of the Borough, and from that, a 5-year action plan was produced. However, we found that a bottom-up approach is the best way to create an action plan for your area.
There is a wealth of expertise and local knowledge out there, waiting to be tapped into, which will be invaluable when it comes to writing your plan. You are wanting to write a plan WITH your community, not FOR them. If you want them to help you in the delivery of the objectives, you need to engage and provide ownership from the start.
Also, you want to empower the general public to do their bit, and support your aims. Providing a list of small-scale actions that they can carry out in their home, their neighbourhood, etc. and signposting them to volunteer groups and organisations that they can join, will all help to deliver your plan.
Number of habitats restored.