The word ‘Biodiversity’, which is an amalgamation of the words 'biological' and 'diversity' is the term used for all forms of life on earth. It includes all life forms, including animals, plants, insects, fish, humans, habitats etc. County Tipperary is a county rich in biodiversity. Habitat diversity ranges from lakes, rivers, grasslands, limestone pavement, turloughs, heaths and peatlands. Some areas and species are protected in the Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) that have been designated to date because of the presence of nationally and internationally important species and habitats.
Threats to Biodiversity
The variety of life on Earth, is not constant. Many things are causing the loss of species and a reduction of that variety, both on a national level, and worldwide.
Species, habitats and ecosystems are under ever increasing threat both in a national and international context. Many species and habitats are in decline and in some cases their future is endangered. In certain cases irreversible losses have already occurred. Many species have become extinct and it is considered that impending extinction rates are many times greater than those of the past. The extinction of one species results in the irreversible loss of a unique suite of genetic adaptations that have been acquired typically over very long time scales of hundreds and thousands of years (National Biodiversity Plan 2002). In addition, worldwide, the spread of invasive non-native species of plants and animals has been identified as the greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat destruction and species loss.
What can we do to protect our Biodiversity
We do not have a full database of biological records for the country, so some groups, like beetles and lichens, may be threatened in ways we cannot measure.
Knowledge gives us the key to protecting the natural wealth of the country.
Know and protect habitats. Different organisms flourish in different conditions, so the key to variety of species is variety in the places they live. Loss of habitats is the biggest threat to global biodiversity. We are all aware of the loss of the rain forests, but are we doing our best to protect our own hedgerows or species-rich grassland?
Control the spread of alien species. The spread of species from other countries is the second greatest threat to local biodiversity after habitat loss. Alien species, which in their home countries are part of coherent ecosystems, often have no natural predators when they are introduced elsewhere. They may swamp out native species, introduce or spread disease, or alter habitats.
Animal examples include mink and grey squirrels. (source: www.npws.ie)