Ballinaglera Biodiversity Project

Good Energies Alliance

What is it?

The Ballinaglera Biodiversity Project funded by The Community Foudation for Ireland is set to study the biodiversity in Ballinaglera. With the help of the ecologist Heather Bothwell, plant and animal species will be identified, and an Biodiversity Action Plan will be drafted to raise awareness and protect the local natural heritage.

Where is it?

The project is set in Ballinaglera. This area is extremelly rich in biodiversity. In the study area you find water, grass and woodland habitats. It encompasses part of the Leitrim Way, close to local heritage sites such as the St. Hugh’s Well and Sweathouse but also the Yellow River banks and Lough Allen shoreline.

When is it?

Heather surveyed the study area during 2022 and is preparing a final report with all the species found. By March 2023, the Biodiversity Action Plan for Ballinaglera will be published. We will propose some actions such as removal of invasive species along the banks of the Yellow River, in Spring 2023.

Who is part of it?

The project was funded be the Community Foundation for Ireland. This grant allowed for Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) to contact Heather Bothwell as the project’s ecologist. The team of European Volunteers hosted by GEAI is not only working side by side with Heather, but also facilitating any events and social media campaigns related to the Project.

Ballinaglera Habitats

Lowland Peatlands

What are they?

 Lowland peatlands can include bogs and fens. Much of the uplands of the study area are blanket bogs, but there are also lowland peatlands.   

Which species can be found?

Bog asphodel, bog myrtle, heathers

Why are they important?

Some species of plants and insects are adapted to a waterlogged, acid and low nutrient environment. These can only survive in habitats such as lowland peatlands.

Peatlands help with flood amelioration due to their capacity to store water. They also store a large amount of carbon, and if the bogs are drained this carbon is released into the atmosphere.

Ecological relationships

Wet peatland areas exist due to sphagnum mosses cell structure and growth form, and they are able to hold an average of 20 times as much water as their dry weight. They can obtain nutrients in this low nutrient environment by cation exchange. In the process the environment is acidified, making  it a place where only particular plants can grow.

Practices that can harm this environment

The main damage is caused by ongoing drainage, but also dumping of clay, agricultural and builders waste.

 Riparian Woodlands

What is it?

Riparian woodlands are those found on the banks of bodies of water, such as rivers. This is a semi-natural habitat recognised as an intrinsic element of the Irish landscape.

Which species can be found?

Alder, willow,  hazel

Why is it important?

This habitat naturally stabilises the river bank, slows the flow of water and takes energy from the river which helps by filtering silt and nutrients, improving water quality.

Finally, this habitat provides a natural wild corridor for species to connect and for bats and bird to feed.

Ecological relationships

Alder has nodules containing nitrogen fixing bacteria.

Early pollen production from willow catkins is essential for Queen bumble bees out of hibernation and species of solitary bees such as Clarke’s mining bee.

Woodland is a natural wild corridor connecting species , providing food for bats and birds.

Practices that can harm this environment

The uncontrolled spread of the invasive species such as Indian balsam prevents other native species developing on river side  and thus influences water quality.

Wet Grassland

What is it?

Wet grasslands is a semi-natural Habitat. It forms in flat or sloped wet ground that has poor drainage, and so it is subject to seasonal floods.

Which species?

Sedges, such as oval sedge, marsh bedstraw and common spotted orchid.

Why is it important?

A rich number of native flower grassland species indicates  soil biodiversity. This is one of the factors that counts for the score cards under agriculture schemes (eg. ACRES CP) that are results based.

Ecological relantionships

The green carpet moth feeds on marsh bedstraw. The presence of yellow rattle, a plant that is a hemiparasite on grasses, promotes the variety of species in sward.

Practices that can harm this environment

Agricultural practices, such as re-seeding and increasing soil nutrient levels reduce the variety of species that grow, and also  negatively affects insect populations.