Playing our part in Biodiversity
It’s hard to overstate the importance of biodiversity to all of us. It has been described as the most complex feature of our planet and the most vital. Indeed, almost every aspect of our existence, from the air we breathe to the food and water we drink, relies on biodiversity.
The quote below from Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations neatly sums up the role which biodiversity plays:
“Biodiversity underpins the functioning of the ecosystems on which we depend for food and fresh water, health and recreation, and protection from natural disasters. Its loss also affects us culturally and spiritually. This may be more difficult to quantify, but is nonetheless integral to our well-being”
Earlier this month, credit unions were appointed Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) champions by the Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications for 2023 and 2024. An important part of that is to foster knowledge sharing, while further embedding sustainability into every aspect of our operations.
As we mark National Biodiversity Week, below are some small measures carried out by local credit unions to help the biodiversity ecosystem within their local communities.
1. HSSCU – One Current Account Opened, One Tree Planted
Ireland was once the most forested country in Europe. Today it has just 11% tree cover, with only 2% of this being native forest. This is a stark contrast to the European average of 33.5% coverage.
To play a small part in reversing this trend, HSSCU decided that for every current account opened by its members, the credit union would plant a new native Irish tree. This is an initiative that focuses on making a positive impact on climate change, enhances environmental protection, and helps to strengthen biodiversity.
Recently HSSCU were on site to plant the first tree of 1,000 native Irish trees on behalf of their members who have opened a Current Account with HSSCU.
The site is located on the beautiful Dingle peninsula in the area of Mountain, near the village of Camp. This location has stunning views over the Atlantic Ocean. The native Irish trees to be planted include Oak, Birch, Holly, and Scots Pine. As these samplings grow into trees, so will the habitat around them assisting in supporting and developing local biodiversity.
Within the scheme, there are plans for beehives to be installed to assist with supporting bees and much more in the area. Bringing a holistic approach to the site’s development and in turn the wider ecological improvement in that local area.
HSSCU members who opened a Current Account in 2022 will have received their very own individual digital tree certificate. Such certificates include details of the member’s tree registered in their name.
Luke Casey, HSSCU Marketing Manager had this to say “This is an exciting initiative from HSSCU that is only getting started. We’re all looking forward to seeing the HSSCU wood grow as part of the wider forest there. Through this initiative, we were able to give something with longevity, sustainability, and a positive environmental impact back to members who opened current accounts.”
2. Cara Credit Union – Biodiversity Promotion with local School
The children of Presentation Primary School were getting muddy and enjoying the school garden, thanks to the support of Cara Credit Union. The school was selected by the Credit Union to participate in a project promoting biodiversity and ecological awareness among young children in the community. The project, in cooperation with Tralee Bay Wetlands, seeks to give children knowledge and hands-on experience of outdoor learning and the importance of protecting the environment.
Speaking about the initiative, Philip Lynch, Youth Development Cara Credit Union said; “At Cara Credit Union we are committed to investing in projects which create a positive impact on climate change and enhance environmental protection. By working with our local primary schools and Tralee Bay Wetlands we are investing in our collective future”.
3. Capital CU – Supporting Reforestation
Capital Credit Union has partnered with Reforest Nation by pledging €2,500 to help them in their journey to plant one million indigenous Irish trees by 2024.
The reforestation project aims to reintroduce diverse native woodland back into the Irish landscape. This will restore ecosystem services, promote, biodiversity, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
James Liston, Business Development Manager for Capital Credit Union, said, “This is a hugely exciting initiative, and we are delighted to partner with Reforest Nation. It is a unique opportunity for Capital Credit Union to support biodiversity and climate action. We look forward to working with Reforest Nation in the months ahead and helping them with their planting days.”
This partnership is part of a wider strategy by Capital Credit Union to be a more sustainable organisation. The credit union has taken a range of steps to become more sustainable installing digital screens and solar panels in branches, digitising processes to reduce paper use, and encouraging members to receive their AGM notifications electronically.
4. Blessington and District CU – Borrow Today and Plant a Tree Tomorrow
Blessington and District Credit Union loans don’t just come with free loan protection insurance. There’s another payback to the local community.
For each loan issued from Blessington and District Credit Union, the credit union donates €10 to the Native Woodland Trust. The Trust was chosen as the partner for this project as they have active preservation sites in the Blessington area, with some sites located near Russborough just off the N81. The Trust is dedicated to the preservation of Ireland’s remaining ancient woodlands. The Trust focuses on the re-establishment of native Irish species like Oak, Ash, Holly, and Hazel.
CEO of the Credit Union Iain Corrigan said: “Similar to last year, the Board of Directors again voted to back an annual donation to a tree planting organisation that was linked to the number of loans issued by the credit union in a financial year.
“For every loan that the credit union issues in a year we have undertaken to contribute €10 towards this project. The Credit Union hopes that this is a way that our members can indirectly contribute to the climate fight by choosing the credit union for their financial needs”.
5. St. Michael’s Credit Union – Seed Bombs Biodiversity Project
St. Michael’s Credit Union in Cork have developed a biodiversity plan which aims to enrich the biodiversity of the grounds of St. Michael’s Credit Union itself and to improve the biodiversity of the wider community that they serve.
In order to involve local primary school children in the initiative, the credit union sent wildflower seed bombs to a number of their local schools.
Planting these seed bombs provides a creative opportunity for students and teachers to spend some time outside of the classroom setting and learn more about the importance of biodiversity. An aim is to help bring the bees back and inspire a sustainable system for the future. Native Irish seed bombs give Irish bees a helping hand by providing much-needed habitat and food for pollinators.
Students simply throw or drop them into your garden, in the hedgerow on the side of the road, on stone walls, in unused garden space, or anywhere you want a wildflower haven where bees and butterflies will flourish. They are designed to practically grow themselves – no garden tools or skill required.
All of our actions have consequences, and every one of us has an important role to play in ensuring that we’re living sustainable lives and finding ways to live better and lighter. Dealing with the climate and biodiversity crisis can seem overwhelming but small, positive steps can help us all to move in the right direction and to make a meaningful impact.