Wednesday 21 November 2018, Julie Curry, Biodiversity Officer, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
Julie’s talk to Probus began with an overview of her role as Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Biodiversity Officer. When visiting primary schools, she is keen to explain that “biodiversity” relates to all living things in the world around us and the responsibilities we all have to maintain the environment. Much of what she does comes under WANE – the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act [Northern Ireland] 2011. This imposes a duty on local councils to develop policies to safeguard habitats such as Wetlands, Bogs and Heath, Woodlands and Hedgerows. Species in need of protection include bats, bees, red squirrels, eels, newts, damsel flies and wild orchids. She explained how members of the public can help by reporting sightings of endangered species via the website www.nmni.com/CEDaR. The threat posed by alien invasive species was also examined, with the spread of Rhododendron on our hillsides being cited as a highly visible example. Today over 2000 alien species are already established in the UK. Locally there are grey squirrels in our gardens, zebra mussels in our waterways and everywhere non-native pests such as rats and flatworms. Julie’s discourse about how to control Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam gave rise to much discussion as members shared their experiences of trying to get rid of these invaders.