Nature needs you!

Outdoor Living

WATER WORKS Ponds are a wonderful and interesting focal point that attract and support a large range of life.

In the garden
Oliver Whyte

Could you host wildlife friendly features in your garden, business, school or park? Westport Tidy Towns Biodiversity Group is looking for locations around the Westport town area to host nature-friendly projects.
What are these projects? Probably the most valuable resource for nature are native trees. A mix of our native tree and plant species provides food over most of the year for a range of insects, birds and mammals.
We are looking to plant mini forests based on the Miyawaki principles, where highly concentrated native trees and plants grow in small dense areas even as small as 5x5 metres. We would love to plant many small nodes of trees in green areas around the Westport area. These would act as natural seed banks where less common or absent and reintroduced tree species would spread naturally.
We are growing heritage plants from locally collected seeds, and we get our trees locally where possible or if required from trusted Irish origin tree suppliers. Native mixed hedgerows are a variant of a mixed species trees and apart from greatly helping nature are also a great low-maintenance barrier reducing noise and air pollution while also providing privacy and shelter.
Water features are another highly valuable resource to help nature. Installing ponds of any size will be part of the project going forward. They are a wonderful and interesting focal point that attract and support a large range of life.               
We aim to install some wildflower meadows – ideally using local plant and seed material where available. This will take a few years to build up species numbers and look its best but when it matures it is a highly attractive and valuable resource to help our declining pollinators.  
We would like to plant food plants, such as fruit trees, bushes and even grain plants that would have been common place historically. This will encourage people to try it for themselves encouraging local sustainability and self-sufficiency as well as being a food source for people and wildlife.
Other nature-friendly features that we hope to install are log, leaf or stone piles. Housing for larger animals such as owls, swallows and bats can be erected. Creating gaps between impermeable boundaries to allow the movement of hedgehogs, frogs and other creatures will be encouraged.
We will ask if reduced cutting of at least a portion of some green areas could be implemented to allow flowering of plants and for vital insect populations to recover. Delayed cutting of hedgerows allows successful nesting of birds, and allows for important flowering and seed production – ideally cutting would be left until February/March. The timing of roadside cutting could be postponed until October to allow for the production of important wildflower seed for the following years growth building up a stunning display of summer roadside wildflowers.
We would ask if reducing night lighting as much as possible, as it is damaging to wildlife. Changing to sensor activated lighting would reduce energy consumption, save money and help wildlife.
These are some of the projects we would like to implement as part of the Westport tidy towns biodiversity drive. We would like to maximise our biodiversity points as part of the overall Tidy Towns competition to enable Westport win the gold medal again.
Our projects have already commenced in several locations around the town. We have limited plant availability this year but if your housing estate, business or school would be interested we would love to come to you and get working to help out nature. Please contact us at

Oliver Whyte Snr is a member of Westport Tidy Towns Biodiversity Group