Nature & Biodiversity Blog

Swords Tidy Towns members are actively participating in different courses, workshops and talks throughout the year. Many of them are aimed at encouraging biodiversity in our communities, discovering and protecting local wildlife. In this blog we will be sharing our discoveries, tips and lessons learned from those events. We will also keep you updated on all our big and small projects in this area.

Coronavirus epidemic has changed our ways of doing things and has also curtailed our opportunities to attend workshops and courses in person, however that also led to many of those events being moved online and transformed into webinars. Below you will find a long list of brilliant webinars and videos from around the country with lots of valuable information on biodiversity related topics. Enjoy!

Climate Ambassador Webinar on Biodiversity

This is the third Climate Ambassador webinar in their Culture Night series. Guest speakers include Dr. Thomas McCloughlin from DCU, Hans Visser a Biodiversity Officer at Fingal County Council and Clare Patten from Green-Schools Ireland.

River Life in Ireland

This webinar was a European Green Leaf 2020 event. “In this webinar, Professor Ken Whelan will introduce you to the magical world of underwater animals and plants, highlight some the threats they face and advise on small steps all of us can take to keep our rivers and streams healthy and productive. Ken works as an environmental and fisheries consultant. He is also an Adjunct Professor in UCD’s School of Biology and Environmental Science and Research Director with the Atlantic Salmon Trust. Ken is best known internationally for his work on the Atlantic salmon. He has also produced, presented and scripted many films and videos on various aspects of Irish fisheries, wildlife and angling. He is a regular radio contributor to the Mooney Goes Wild programme on RTE Radio1.

Tidy Towns and Biodiversity: Webinar with Janice Fuller

Dr Janice Fuller is a botanist and ecologist with an in-depth knowledge of the Irish flora and habitats based on many years’ experience of field survey and research. She also has a particular interest in community development and has facilitated the production of numerous local biodiversity action plans for Tidy Towns groups around the country. As a national Tidy Towns adjudicator, she has experience of a wide range of community-led biodiversity projects and initiatives around the country. She regularly delivers biodiversity training for community groups, local authorities and for the outdoor recreation sector. Janice is passionate about communicating the importance of the natural world in our everyday lives.

What’s the Buzz

“Limerick’s own bumblebee expert, Liz Gabbett, will take you on a pictorial tour of Limerick’s beautiful Corbally Road Meadow and point out the wonderful blossoms and bugs you likely to come across there. She will also introduce you to What’s the Buzz, an online learning tool which will teach you all you need to know about our most common bumblebees. This webinar was hosted by Limerick City and County Council and is a European Green Leaf 2020 event.”

Introduction to Grass Identification

Recording of the first webinar from the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland as part of the Irish Grasslands Project, supported by NPWS and CEDaR. “Expert botanist Fionnuala O’Neill takes us through the key features for identifying grass species. Fionnuala’s talk is one hour, followed by Q&A with Fionnuala, Maria Long (Grassland Ecologist with NPWS) and Sarah Pierce (BSBI Ireland Officer). For more on the project, visit”

Vegetative Grass Identification – part 1

Recording of the second webinar from the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland as part of the Irish Grasslands Project, supported by NPWS and CEDaR. “Expert botanist Lynda Weekes introduces Lynda’s talk is approximately one hour, followed by Q&A with Louise Marsh (BSBI Communications Manager) and Sarah Pierce (BSBI Ireland Officer). For more on the project, visit”

Vegetative Grass Identification – part 2

Don’t Mow Let it Grow Webinar

This webinar is a European Green Leaf 2020 event and was hosted by Limerick City and County Council on the 11th of June 2020.

“Don’t Mow, Let It Grow is an exciting project which focuses on the management of road verges and amenity grasslands across the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area. It looks at different ways of managing these areas to show how small changes in management give big benefits to biodiversity and ecosystem services.”

Virtual Bat Walk Limerick EGLA

Limerick Environment Limerick City and County Council in collaboration with the Vincent Wildlife Trust have launched Ireland’s first virtual bat walk in Coillte’s Curraghchase Forest Park on the Limerick EGLA2020 YouTube Channel on June 5th, 2020.

Gardening for Biodiversity

A webinar “Gardening for Biodiversity” took place on the 29th of May, 2020. Watch a recording of this event below.

You can request your own copy in the post by emailing or you can download the pdf version here:

The following videos are part of “Gardening for Biodiversity” series (6 videos altogether) based on the book “Gardening for Biodiversity” written by Juanita Browne and published in 2020 by Laois County Council. The videos cover topics like build a garden pond, creating a wildflower meadow, planting trees and hedgerows for wildlife, creating a log pile and improving your garden for birds. These videos are presented by John Lusby, produced for Laois County Council by Crow Crag Films. Scientific Advisor Juanita Browne.

Preparing a Fine Tilth and Sowing Wildflowers

Notes from Sustainable gardening course with Aoife Munn, February 2020

  • Soil preparation for wildflowers meadow: remove the turf – clear the weeds – leave for 3-4 weeks – sow the seeds (stale bed)
  • Yellow rattle can help when sowing seeds into existing grass. However, to germinate yellow rattle needs 6 weeks of cold and that doesn’t always happen in Ireland. Yellow rattle lasts one year and is not able to kill or suppress the scutch grass. To sow the yellow rattle pull the grass with your finger back and plant the seed right under the roots of the grass, choose a few different spots. Use seed bombs only when you see the yellow rattle grow and only in those spots. 
  • If planning to grow wildflowers on the slope, it’s better to sow them in trays and replant in patches from there, otherwise most seeds will be washed down with rain. 
  • you can buy native Irish wildflowers at website
  • Seedbombs are not generally recommended, but if you’re looking for them is a good choice that sell native Irish seeds.

To read more about wildflower meadow creation and seed collection click here:

Dividing Perennial Plants

Notes from Sustainable gardening course with Aoife Munn, February 2020

Digging Without Damaging Your Back

Thank you to Aoife Munn for teaching us the proper way to use garden fork while digging so we do not get our backs hurt. A very important tip – invest in a longhandled fork as it allows for better leverage whilst saving from back strains.

Sowing Seeds

Notes from Sustainable gardening course with Aoife Munn, February 2020

All seed should have a best before date on it. If it does not it might not be viable. Cheap seed without a best before date is not a good investment.


  • Fill a pot almost full with compost and gently firm down, but do not make soil too compacted as the seed will not be able to put a root in to it if too compacted.
  • All seeds are sown to twice their size in depth. This means they are only lightly covered and no deep holes.
  • Water gently and keep inside till seed germinates if necessary
  • To harden plants off put the pot outside during the day and in at night for 3 days.
  • Plant the pot in to the soil so that the soil in the pot is level with the ground.

Plant cucumber, pumpkin and big flat seeds on their side.
Annuals are plants that complete their lifecycle in one year and are often great for wildlife. Many are hardy and can be planted outside very quickly after germination such as sweetpeas. Poppies and cornflowers can be sown out directly in to the soil.

Keep seed packets for accurate information. Keep a diary of your garden

How to Make Newspaper Seedling Pots

Making your own seedling pots is quick, affordable, environmentally friendly and fun to do with children. These pots are fully biodegradable and so the seedlings can be replanted ouside without being removed from the pot.

Pollinator Friendly Planting Code

Click on the picture below to read/download/print the pollinator friendly planting code guide that will help you pick the plants that benefit wildlife the most.

Climate Change & Environmental Awareness Video

This video is the brainchild of Swords local Lorcan Farrelly Poet/Singer and Swords Tidy Towns. Lorcan particularly wanted local youth to be involved, as his lyrics are about the future they face.

Listen to Fingal Community College choir performing the song and also to FCC students sharing their concerns about climate change and its impact to our wildlife, as well as the importance of raising awareness about the environmental issues.

Leaf Mould

Leaf mould is fantastic for wildlife – writes Kate Bradbury an editor of Wild London magazine in her article “Leaf mould: good for wildlife, good for the garden“. She explains that “in woodland, leaves fall from trees, and hedgehogs, small mammals, amphibians and countless insects shelter among them, while fungi slowly break the leaves down. Blackbirds and thrushes peck through them, looking for grubs, worms and insects. Left beyond winter, leaf litter offers nesting opportunities for hedgehogs and bumblebees, as well as a habitat for detrivores such as worms and woodlice, which feed on the decaying matter. Ground beetles, amphibians and other predators may use the heap to hunt the detritivores.”

Leaf mould cage is one of the ways to recreate this process in your gardens. There are many ways to build a cage, but the easiest one is using fencing wire. This method also provides easy access for worms, beetles and other invertebrates. For the same reason it is recommended to place the cage on either soil or grass.

Please see the gallery below for assembly instructions and some photos of the cages we have installed recently in Swords. Most of them are based in different schools in Swords and one at our tunnel, however, there is one leaf mould cage installed on Dublin Road beside our bug hotel and is publicly accessible for those who would like to have a closer look.

Biodiversity Swords Talk

In February 2019 Swords Tidy Towns organised a Biodiversity Swords Talk – “Understanding, protecting & enhancing local biodiversity”, which was presented by Nuala Madigan, B.Agr.Env., M.Ed., Environmental Education Officer with the Irish Peatland Conservation Council. You can find the slides from the workshop below.


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