Biodiversity on your doorstep: the Bealtaine Living Earth biodiversity festival goes online

Online festival will allow people to explore biodiversity from home or within 5km radius via online guided walks and activities developed by guides for all

16-24 May marks the 16th year of the Bealtaine Living Earth biodiversity festival. Coordinated by Calmast, Waterford Institute of Technology’s STEM engagement centre, the festival brings groups from across the south east of Ireland together to celebrate biodiversity and our Living Earth and is funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

Biodiversity on your doorstep: the Bealtaine Living Earth biodiversity festival goes online

Japanese Gardens 2 -1

For the past 15 years, the festival has hosted expert guides bringing the people of the south east on guided walks and talks to the beautiful settings like Mount Congreve, the Waterford Greenway and along the Copper Coast, and the JFK Arboretum. In addition to events in these wonderful locations the festival has always promoted the idea of biodiversity all around us, in our own neighbourhoods and our doorstep. Now in this time of lockdown, there has never been a better time to hear and see extraordinary things in ordinary places – bird song, flowers, trees etc.

This year’s festival will be a little different explains Calmast Manager Dr Cordula Weiss. “With the current restrictions in place, the festival will be bringing these events directly into your home, through online guided walks and activities for all the family, allowing you to see and appreciate the biodiversity at these wonderful sites but also explaining how to explore the biodiversity on your doorstep.”

Featuring a curated online tour of the Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens through four seasons, a guided wellness walk in JFK arboretum, rock pooling videos by the Sea gardener Marie Power, self-directed workshops and guides of the Copper Coast, activities exploring the biodiversity in your garden- there is something for everyone at the festival.

The full festival listing and details of online events can be found at www.livingearth.ie.

The festival includes activities to celebrate many international days for example, there will be an interactive quiz on Instagram to celebrate the UN International day for Biological Diversity on 22 May. We are also celebrating World Bee Day on 20 May, with activities based on the wonderful world of bees, exploring why we need to protect bees, and their ecosystems as they are key to conserving biodiversity – a cornerstone of the UN Sustainable Development goals.

Each day of the festival will feature a different venue with guided walks, and videos, self-directed guides for people to do in their 5km radius while maintaining social distancing, and activities for all the family to do. The festival plans to have a group of experts on hand to answer the public’s questions on plants, trees and other aspects of biodiversity. Details and schedules will be added to www.livingearth.ie and https://www.facebook.com/bealtainebiodiversity.

The website has plenty of resources and activities for all the family to do in your back garden to explore biodiversity. There are many guides available on the website to use to explore the biodiversity in your garden and local area many supplied by the National parks and Wildlife services. These include making a butterfly feeder, ideas on how to have a biodiversity scavenger hunt in your garden and much more.

Bealtaine is the Irish word for the month of May and it comes from the ancient Celtic festival of Bealtaine when our ancient ancestors celebrated the revival of growth after the hardships of winter. The festival symbolises hope, and looking to the future, something that is so important during these times. The festival allows everyone to explore the wonders of nature, and promotes connecting with nature for mindfulness and wellbeing, something that is more important than ever during this Coid19 pandemic.

County Wexford is well represented in the Bealtaine Living Earth Biodiversity festival, with a guided wellness walk in the JFK Arboretum led by Horticulturist Mary O’Neill Maloney OPW, JFK Arboretum.

JFK guides Gerry O’Neill and Leona Tuck with their instructional guide will show people how to make a beautiful colourful madela using natural materials from your garden.

Celebrate the UN International day for Biological diversity May 22nd with a Biodiversity quiz on Instagram developed by Leona Tuck of the JFK Arboretum.

Tipperary Council Library services have kindly provided the Bealtaine Living Earth Biodiversity festival with many guides on how to explore the Biodiversity on your doorstep and in your garden, including guides on how to make a willow hut and how to make a Bug Hotel. Why not celebrate International Bee day (20 May) with activities developed by Tipperary Council.
www.livingearth.ie and https://www.facebook.com/bealtainebiodiversity

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