A LOCAL environmentalist is in the process of forming a committee to persuade Donegal County Council to stop mowing grass verges until late summer.
Ms Aoife Valley hopes to bring a UK style ‘Say No To Mow’ campaign to Donegal next year in order to encourage the council and members of the public to save wild flowers and learn more about biodiversity.
Ms Valley is a natural beekeeper based in Carrigart. She give talks on honeybees to gardening groups and schools and runs mindfulness meditation classes and retreats in Letterkenny.
She says the campaign, which is backed by celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh, will help encourage the council to better manage verges by planting more native wildflowers and mowing them later in the year.
Ms Valley says cutting hedges and road verges in summer is devastating for wildlife as it removes valuable food sources of nectar, berries, nuts and pollen.
“Aside from helping wildlife to flourish, plants along the roadside are doing us a favour by taking in the pollutants of passing vehicles. By cutting them away, we are not allowing nature to help us,” she said.
Ms Valley suggested our obsession with grass and hedge trimming is a modern “culture of tidiness.”
“We are using a lot of energy and fuel in cutting when people could be doing other things with their spare time. We adopted a culture of tidiness in the 1980s and 1990s which was fine then but we are now living in different times.
“The enormous reduction in insect populations over the past years indicates that nature is in serious trouble. Some scientists are calling the die-off of the honeybee the canary in the coal mine – the first sign that humanity, who depend on these creatures for two thirds of their food, are also in trouble.”
Do you remember even ten years ago going on any long road trip you would have to stop and clear the windscreen of insects? “Well, where are they now? Pesticides and loss of habitat have killed them off.”
Ms Valley sees this campaign as an opportunity for us to make simple changes to support the natural world. She pointed out that tidy towns committees are starting wildflower and biodiversity areas and that it’s “not just about tidiness, it’s about balance and remembering that we are part of the land. If it flourishes, we do too.”
Ms Valley concluded that one way the council could help is to only cut selectively during the summer months for road safety purposes.
“As far as I saw this year the council cut miles and miles of hedges when perhaps the safety concern was only in one spot. Selective cutting would save energy and wildlife.”
“I am interested in inspiring people to help nature and, in turn, help themselves in new ways. I have no interest in telling people what to do or that they are wrong for carrying on traditions. It’s not about stopping mowing the lawn or cutting hedges, it’s about considering leaving a wee section of the land for butterflies, bees and birds. And if you don’t want to that’s OK. The Say No to Mow campaign is about offering alternatives. I trust that everyone wants to take care of their wee patch of the earth, whatever way they do it.”
Anyone interested in being part of the ‘Say No to Mow’ campaign in Donegal can contact Ms Valley at firstname.lastname@example.org
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