PRESS RELEASE – Issued 23 May 2013:
Ireland’s BioBlitz 2013
Four sites, 170 naturalists and over 1,000 species – all in a 24 hrs race against time!
Ireland’s BioBlitz 2013 is a race against time to see which site can record the most species of wildlife over a 24 hour period. This year’s event starts at 17:00hrs Friday 24th May and runs until 17:00hrs on Saturday 25th May. 170 of Ireland’s leading natural scientists are assembled at four sites to compete to see which site will be crowned Ireland’s BioBlitz champions for 2013. The four sites participating this year are Wicklow Mountains National Park, Burren National Park, Lough Key Forest Park and Colebrooke Estate.
Now in its fourth year, Ireland’s BioBlitz has grown to become the biggest event celebrating Biodiversity Week. BioBlitz will see intense surveying of the four properties by national experts using a wide variety of sampling techniques. By 17:00hrs on Saturday, the winning site will be the one that has recorded at least 1,000 different species over the 24 hour period. This is likely to include around 350 species of plants, more than 100 species of lichen, 60-80 bird species, more than 60 species of beetles, more than 20 mammals, almost 100 species of moss. Last year’s winning site, Crawfordsburn Country Park, Co. Down, even managed to record 36 different species of snails and slugs!
‘BioBlitz is held each year as part of National Biodiversity Week to highlight the important contribution that Biodiversity makes to our quality of life’, says Dr. Liam Lysaght, Director of the National Biodiversity Data Centre. ‘Biodiversity is one of Ireland’s vital natural assets contributing at least €2.6 million to the Irish economy each year, yet the contribution it makes is often overlooked’ he added. The event is run by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in association with National Parks and Wildlife Service, National Museums Northern Ireland and Coillte.
The 170 scientists participate in BioBlitz in a voluntary capacity, giving of their time and expertise freely to make this national event such a success. BioBlitz also includes an extensive programme of public events where members of the public can join with the experts to see how they survey for wildlife. Events include bat walks, dusk and dawn chorus, electro-fishing, pond dipping, insect walks, indoor wildlife displays and exhibitions.
This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of Ireland’s leading film maker and conservationist Éamon de Buitléar who died earlier this year aged 83. Dr. Mary Kelly-Quinn, Chair of the National Biodiversity Data Centre stated ‘it is fitting that this year’s event is dedicated to the memory of Éamon de Buitléar who was so instrumental in instilling an appreciation of wildlife in generations of Irish people’. ‘His contribution to nature conservation will be sorely missed’ she added.
Ireland’s BioBlitz will be broadcast live on RTE 1 from 19:00 to 20:00hrs on Friday 24th May 2013 as part of RTÉ Goes Wild series. The event can be followed live on-line at http://bioblitz.biodiversityireland.ie/
For further information contact: Dr. Liam Lysaght, Director, National Biodiversity Data Centre – 087 7592845. Photographs can be supplied on request.
NOTES TO EDITOR
- 1. What is BioBlitz?
Ireland’s BioBlitz brings together scientists and recorders in a race against time to see how many species can be recorded in a 24-hour biological survey of four of Ireland’s heritage sites. The public is invited to observe the activities, to interact with the recorders and to participate in the range of other activities arranged by the host venues. By pitting the four venues against each other, it will bring an added dimension to the event, allowing comparisons to be made between the sites, and to gain further insights into the relative biological richness of the different habitats.
Ireland’s BioBlitz is designed to increase public awareness of the variety of life in Ireland and to highlight some of the ecological services that biodiversity provides to enhance our quality of life at the global and the local level. It is also hoped to demonstrate the high level of skill and expertise necessary to study many aspects of Ireland’s biological diversity.
This is the fourth year of BioBlitz. Previous winners were:
2010 – Connemara National Park, Co. Galway with 542 species
2011 – Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry with 1,088 species
2012 – Crawfordsburn Country Park, Co. Down with 984 species
- 2. How will BioBlitz work?
‘Base Camp’ established at each venue which will serve as the hub for the BioBlitz activities at each site. This will be managed by staff of the host site and the National Biodiversity Data Centre, working in collaboration with some key experts invited to the event. Base Camp will be equipped with species lists and other equipment that might be needed on the day to aid the identification and validation of species observed. It will also be from where recorder and volunteer effort is coordinated to optimise the recording effort and where the overall species tally will be done. A large tally board will be located at each Base Camp to keep recorders and visitors informed of progress, and unusual or exciting news will be posted on the BioBlitz notice board throughout the day.
Activities throughout the event from all sites will be streamed through the Ireland’s BioBlitz website which is co-ordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Waterford. Observations received at Base Camp will be logged onto a specially developed Ireland’s BioBlitz 2013 online record submission form, http://records.biodiversityireland.ie/bioblitz_2013.php which will show, in real time, what species have been recorded at each site, and which site is winning. In addition to showing the progress with record collation, the Ireland’s BioBlitz website will provide news updates and present photographs of activities.
Species tallies across all sites will be presented on the website at 11.00hrs, 13.00hrs and 15.00hrs. The winning site will be the site that has submitted the most species on-line by 17.00hrs.
- 3. Ireland’s Biodiversity
Biodiversity is a term used to describe the variety of life found in an area. It relates to genetic, species and ecosystem diversity and also the interactions between humans and the natural environment. Between 30,000 and 40,000 species occur in Ireland. This comprised about 12,000 species of insect, 8,000 species of other invertebrates, 5,500 species of fungi, 2,300 species of vascular plants, 1,200 species of lichens, 1,100 species of algae and 800 species of mosses. Birds and mammals together account for less than 2% of all species found in Ireland http://biodiversity.biodiversityireland.ie/
- 4. National Biodiversity Data Centre
The National Biodiversity Data Centre is a national organisation for the collection, collation, management, analysis and dissemination of data on Ireland’s biological diversity. Biodiversity data are a key requirement for understanding our natural surroundings, for tracking change in our environment and for gaining a greater insight on how we benefit from, and impact upon, the ecosystem goods and services provided by biological diversity; a national asset which contributes at least €2.8 billion to the Irish economy each year.
The Data Centre was established by the Heritage Council in 2007 and is funded by the Heritage Council and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
4. Éamon de Buitléar (1930 – 2013)
Éamon de Buitléar died on 28 January 2013 at the age of 83. He was Ireland’s best know independent wildlife film-maker since the 1960s, producing Amuigh Faoin Spéir, the first Irish wildlife film series. He was author of several books on Ireland’s natural history and a recent memoir, A Life in the Wild. He had a passion for the natural heritage and was an ardent conservationist. In recognition of his work on conservation he was appointed to Seanad Eireann in 1987 and to the National Heritage Council.
He was also strongly associated with promotion of traditional music and the Irish language.