Baile Slachtmhar Bhéal an Mhuirthead (Belmullet Tidy Towns ) was awarded first place in the Together for Biodiversity Awards – for their project ‘It’s All About the Bees and the Seas’, at the National Biodiversity Conference, held in Dublin Castle on Wednesday.
The National Biodiversity Conference was organised by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS ) and the Irish Forum on Natural Capital, sponsored by Dublin Port Company. The Belmullet voluntary group won Category A – criteria: a small community group project, run on less than €3,000 budget.
Their project - ‘It’s All About the Bees and the Seas – seeks to create awareness of the wealth of bird life and marine life that is to be found in the area of Béal an Mhuirthead – the main town in the barony of Erris. The group has created storyboards along a walkway by Blacksod Bay (SPA ), giving information about some of the interesting birds and the marine life that inhabit or visit this very special place.
The Mullet Peninsula is home to Ireland’s rarest bee and in efforts to avoid the extinction of the Great Yellow Bumblebee and the Belted Beauty Moth, the Tidy Towns group is taking some specific measures to create awareness among the wider community and to help preserve and improve the amazing habitats which sustain these important species.
Some other activities undertaken by the group include: guided walks with Birdwatch Ireland; hosting a Leave No Trace course; leaving grass swards uncut at various locations (to allow wildflowers to grow ); planting a Willow Tunnel; creating a herb garden; planting native hedgerows; collaborating with the Erris Beekeepers Association; participating in regular Clean Coasts events; working with local schools; cutting down on the use of chemical weed killers; hosting Heritage and Nature trail events; and organising an annual Midnight Corncrake Tour on the Mullet Peninsula in conjunction with Ballycroy National Park.
The overall aim of this unique project is to create more awareness of the wealth of biodiversity in the area, to make people aware of the threats to biodiversity and how to reduce these threats and to guide farmers, gardeners, accommodation providers and tourism product providers in the direction of best practice and eco-tourism and so create a more sustainable future for both residents and wildlife in Belmullet and on the Mullet Peninsula.
Members of Baile Slachtmhar Bhéal an Mhuirthead were thrilled with the news of the win and extended thanks to all those who helped to achieve this national award. Accepting the award in Dublin Castle on behalf of the committee, Margaret Tallott said: "We are so happy that all of our hard work has been recognised on a national platform and we are confident that this award will help our community to progress even further in terms of being biodiversity champions. We would like to say míle buíochas to all those who have helped us and worked with us on our many projects over the years and we are optimistic that beautiful Belmullet will achieve even more success in the future."