We are proud to announce that we’ve won our Biodiversity Flag!
The flag was presented to Danann and David from the Green Team and Mr Ó Brádaigh, at a ceremony hosted by An Taisce in DCU on May 20th.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this enormous project!!!
Congratulations to the GREEN TEAM who did so well in their inspection for the BIODIVERSITY flag, which took place on Wednesday, March 11th.
We got the Biodiversity Flag!
Go Raibh Maith Agat A Mhaeve!
THE GREEN TEAM!
Thanks for visiting and encouraging us on Wednesday, March 11th. We really enjoyed showing our school campus to you and we hope that you felt welcome in Saint Mary’s.
Slán go fóill!
Mol An Óige!
What is Biodiversity?
“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 wellbeing” Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
Biodiversity is the variation of living organisms from all sources, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and all the habitats of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. Imagine life without all this diversity! Life on earth would cease to exist!
Common terms to know:
• Species – a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. For example, the ash is a species of tree, the squirrel is a species of mammal.
• Habitat – the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds, influences and is utilised by a species population. For example, a woodland or a bog is a habitat.
• Ecosystem – is a community of plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms that live, feed, reproduce and interact together in the same area or environment. Irish examples include a bog, a woodland, a marsh, a hedge, a lake or even a rock pool.
• Ecosystem Services – are the benefits of ecosystems. Ecosystems can provide protection from flooding, regulate climate change, breakdown wastes and recycle nutrients, filter and purify water, maintain soil fertility, purify the air, control pests and diseases and provide goods such as woods, textiles and food.
The world’s biological diversity is an essential natural resource which humans have used and benefited from for thousands of years.
Biodiversity keeps us alive.
Therefore, it is vital we conserve it and here is how we’re doing just that…..!
We are proud to talk about Biodiversity !
We are happy to be able to share our message with the wider community and the world, via this web-site.
In that way we can tell our friends. Then they can tell THEIR friends who will in turn tell THEIR friends and eventually we will tell everyone! Read on…
The Green Team salute the flags we have already…
Our response to the issue of Biodiversity
Green team members and volunteers enjoying their work!
Green Team members report the latest news to Assembly recently.
Green Team activities at a glance…
We’ve had a really busy two years here in Saint Mary’s working towards getting our Biodiversity flag from An Taisce.
Click on the picture to see the bee do its thing!
One of the first things we did was to organise a competition to compose a Green Code for the whole school. The standard of entries was very high and we had a difficult task in choosing the eventual winner. However it’s all very well having a cool slogan but our actions speak louder than mere words…
Animal and Tree of the Month
Each month we have focussed on an animal and a tree to expand our knowledge of the flora and fauna in our environment. We have displayed fun facts about nature throughout the school to encourage interest in the wild and wonderful world around us. The children have loved this.
Fun Fact Examples: Did you know that the fox is a member of the dog family?
Did you know that the branches of the oak tree can reach up to 41 M in length?
Biodiversity Art Competition
The children in the junior and senior ends of the school were invited to take part in an art competition with Biodiversity being the theme. What talent we have in this school! The children took inspiration from the various habitats in our school grounds and in the wider world. They used a wide variety of different materials. Here are some examples!
These are the prize-winners in the Biodiversity Art Competition. Well done to everyone who took part and to Ms Biggs who organised it.
The 5-Star Insect Hotel
Here you can see our St. Mary’s Insect Hotel, which we’ve constructed as part of our campaign for the awarding of a Green Flag for biodiversity. An insect hotel is a place of shelter and nesting for insects. Tidy gardens, lawns and a lack of dead wood mean less and less habitat for many insects.
Hopefully, some mini beasts, such as the ladybird and butterfly, will hibernate here. Solitary bees and solitary wasps may lay their eggs here in the holes drilled in timber. They will then seal up the hole with mud!
Hotels also attract predatory insects such as earwigs which help control unwanted bugs.
Earwigs are good to have near fruit trees as they will eat the plant lice that may harm the growth of fruit.
They love terracotta flower pots filled with straw! Ladybirds love to hibernate in large groups in piles of dry twigs and leaves. Beetles, centipedes & woodlice love the rotting wood section here. Nearby flower beds give insects their nourishment.
We hope the insects are happy here in their new home!
To prepare the soil for planting, Senior pupils dug the ground outside Room 6 and planted a variety of wild-flower seeds. We’re anticipating the first flourish of new growth in the coming months. The wild-flower garden is a powerful force intended to be a haven for a wide variety of creatures including bees and butterflies. These pollinators are essential for keeping the plant and animal kingdom, and us, going.
We’re hoping that our wild-flower garden will resemble the picture above…
Name that tree…
Saint Mary’s is lucky to have a wide variety of trees in the school grounds and we were luckier still to have Anne Lynch from the Tree Council of Ireland to help us identify and learn about these. Her input included showing the trees to various classes and labelling each variety of tree, to assist the children in becoming familiar with the wonderful flora present in our school environment.
Raised Vegetable Beds
This year we invested in two large raised beds for our school grounds. These have now been put in place and have been prepared for planting with vegetables by our wonderful caretakers, Mr. Swinburne and Mr. Keyes. The children in several classes are minding their seedlings indoors until the time is right for outdoor planting. We’re looking forward to enjoying the fruits (or vegetables!) of our labour towards the end of the school year.
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As part of our campaign for the awarding of a ‘biodiversity’ Green Flag in 2015, we held a ‘Green Day’ on Friday 30th May last year. We had a number of visitors to the school on the day to make presentations, including Jessica from Tayto Park who brought with her, a variety of animals. The pupils really enjoyed handling some of these creatures while Jessica explained their place in the world of nature. Mr. Brendan Price from the Seal Sanctuary also visited some senior classes in the lead-up to Green Day. Well-known Australian ecologist, Dale Treadwell was here on the day to speak to some classes and bring them outdoors to examine our biodiversity!
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In addition to this activity, the whole school made a huge effort to dress up in costumes reflecting the latest theme of biodiversity as well as previous themes we’ve worked on. These include, waste reduction, energy and water conservation as well as reducing our carbon footprint.
Bring on the next Green Day!
In 2014, the Green Team and Mr. Ó Brádaigh travelled to Sonairte, the National Ecology Centre, in Laytown. They learned all about plants, trees and insects and brought home many ideas and plans for St. Mary’s for the coming months and years!
You’ll see these plans coming to fruition everywhere as you travel around the school.
Boyne Valley Activities
In February 2015 we had a visit from James from Boyne Valley Activities. The children learned about biodiversity all along the River Boyne- Meath’s most important river. From plant life to animal life we were amazed by the diversity of life in our native county! ( Click pic to enlarge. )
Dale Visits Again…
Click on the link below to watch a super slide-show of the day…
National Tree Week
Last year’s Green Schools Committee art competition was held to mark Tree Week 2014. The standard of the work was extremely high and we were amazed with the huge volume of entries! Well done, one and all.
In conjunction with Tree Week, the Board of Management arranged for the removal of a significant number of non-native Leylandii trees along the perimeter of the playing field. This will create a more conducive environment for native flora and fauna to thrive on the school campus.
Housing and Feeding
At Assembly recently, we had a display of the amazing bird-boxes made by pupils and their families. In the picture are these wonderful crafts-people, along with principal, Mr Ó hÓbáin, a great supporter of the Green team and Ms Ní Mhurchadha of the Green Team. Another “Team Saint Mary’s ” activity!
Putting up the bird boxes and bee houses…
Work in progress…
To provide a safe haven for our birds and bees, senior pupil volunteers, including some “Green Team” members made bird houses and bee houses. The pupils received assistance from their extended families and it was very nice to see members of the wider school community become involved in this worthwhile venture. See the children working hard…
Bird feeders and Wool Bags
The “Green Team” also made bird feeders and wool-bags for birds’ nests out of recycled materials. These items have been hung in strategic positions around the school.
The leaf-pile looks so comfortable!
Loads more to see. Check out the gallery…
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And while all this work on Biodiversity has been going on we have continued to be careful not to forget the other themes we had worked on to gain our previous Green Flags!
Each class has an energy monitor to make sure that all lights and projectors are switched off when the children leave the rooms. We’re mindful of keeping windows and doors closed to keep the heat in and the cold out.
We continue to encourage our children to walk, cycle or scoot to school. And when this is not possible we encourage our school community to share car journeys. When the weather improves this spring we hope to restart our Walk On Wednesday/Cycle On Wednesday campaign.
In September each year we carry out an audit of recycling bins in each room in the school and all children and teachers are reminded regularly of the items which we can recycle in school and of those which we need to take home to recycle.
Thank You for reading this page. We hope you enjoyed it!
Go raibh maith agat as ucht an leathnach seo a léamh. Tá súil againn gur bhain tú taitneamh as!