These educational videos have been produced In association with The Community Foundation of Ireland, SECAD, WildWork and Ballincollig Tidy Towns as part of our Biodiversity Action Plan.
Newsletter: July 2023
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is a framework bringing together different sectors across the island of Ireland to create a landscape where pollinators can survive and thrive. Its implementation is coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
To spot this month: keep an eye out for the Wool Carder Bee
This large solitary bee is very distinctive and can be spotted in gardens, especially in the South-East. It was first recorded in Ireland in 2015. Both males and females have a pattern of yellow markings down the sides of the abdomen, head and legs.
Submit your solitary bee sightings
To do this month: make sure any annual bedding includes some pollinator-friendly optionsAt this time of year, the shops are full of traditional annual bedding (Begonia, Petunia, Geranium). Just bear in mind, that while these plants are very colourful, they are not good sources of pollen and nectar for bees and other insects. Try to mix in some of the more pollinator friendly options below.
New guideline: Pollinator-friendly management of Solar FarmsWe are delighted to release a new Pollinator Plan resource. Solar energy expansion is important for climate mitigation, but it can have consequences for biodiversity. Through working with experts, we have developed a guide that identifies ten evidence-based actions to help pollinators and biodiversity on solar farms. We thank the Irish Solar Energy Association, who have supported the document.
Orchid delight at Trinity CollegeThis year, Trinity College Dublin enthusiastically embraced #NoMowMay, and were blown away by what popped up when they temporarily stopped mowing several of their lawns in May and June. The most thrilling of more than 30 species to emerge from the usually closely mown lawns in Parliament Square (the two lawns just inside the Front Gate of Trinity, each with a birch tree at the centre) is a rare orchid, the Broad-leaved Helleborine! Read more in the blog from Prof. Jane Stout.
Mapping a Carlow Town Pollinator Foraging Network
Carlow County Council recently adopted their County Carlow Green Infrastructure Strategy, which contained a novel approach to managing urban pollinator foraging networks. The approach is based on the policy that: “No pollinator in County Carlow’s towns and villages will have to travel more than 200metres in order to find a food source”.
The approach resulted in the production of a pollinator foraging map. It is being trialled in Carlow Town initially, with a view to replicating in all other towns and villages. We hope that others will be inspired by their innovative approach. Read more in the blog from Shane Casey, Environmental Awareness Officer for Carlow County Council.
Rare pollinators using the long-flowering meadows in Tramore, County WaterfordNative meadows are an incredibly important habitat for biodiversity. We know that creating and managing these meadows is one of the most challenging actions you can take (see our recently published guide to help). However, if you choose an appropriate initial location, and manage correctly throughout the year, the positive impact on pollinators and other biodiversity can be enormous. See the blog below on the excellent meadows in Tramore that are already supporting rare pollinators. Don’t Sow, Let it Grow!
Tramore meadows blog
Guide on creating and managing meadows
Submit your records of Bee OrchidsAs a result of No Mow May, we’ve had many emails from people who have spotted Bee Orchids in their gardens or local communities for the first time. If you’re aware of Bee Orchids in 2023, please submit the record to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The return of this beautiful native Orchid is symbolic of how easy it can be to help biodiversity by choosing the right actions. Photo: John Fogarty
Submit plant sightings
Can you help by carrying out a Flower-Insect Timed Count (FIT Count)
FIT Counts are an important way that you can help us monitor pollinators. Download the free FIT Count App, watch a 50x50cm patch of flowers for 10 minutes and count how many insects visit. You can carry out a FIT Count anywhere, and on any flower. However, where you can, we ask that you use one of our 15 target flowers. In July, its especially useful to carry out FIT Counts on Bramble or Hogweed
In 2022, the average number of insects recorded on a FIT Count was 8. Why not try one where you are to see how your site compares.
For those interested, the National Biodiversity Data Centre also runs a Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. You can help by counting the number of butterflies visiting your garden.
FIT Count website
Garden Butterfly Monitoring Scheme
News from Biodiversity Ireland
This monthly newsletter provides an update on some of the work of the National Biodiversity Data Centre and highlights upcoming events.
Biodiversity Ireland magazine
The National Biodiversity Data Centre has published its 24th edition of Biodiversity Ireland which is our bi-annual newsletter. It is a way of showcasing aspects of the project work of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, but also to highlight some of the recording and survey work undertaken by key partners.
Read Biodiversity Ireland here
Festival of Farmland Biodiversity
The National Biodiversity Data Centre is again hosting a month-long (virtual) Festival of Farmland Biodiversity for May 2023. The purpose of the Festival is to encourage a more positive engagement around the topic of biodiversity and farmland, and to highlight some of the ways that farmers can work to support biodiversity.
What will it involve:
- Sharing advice on evidence-based actions on farmland to help biodiversity.
- Highlighting seasonal actions for pollinators on farmland.
- Videos highlighting actions farmers have taken to help pollinators for the Protecting Farmland Pollinators EIP project.
- Sharing examples of actions framers have taken to help biodiversity.
- Highlighting the threat posed by invasive alien species.
- ‘Biodiversity on your Farm’, profiling species that occur on farmland, how to record your sightings and simple biodiversity management tips.
- On-line course to learn how to identify farmland birds.
- Getting farmers involved in biodiversity surveying and monitoring.
Go to the Festival of Farmland Biodiversity website
Invasive Species Week
For one week every year, organisations across Ireland, the UK, Isle of Mann, Jersey and Guernsey come together for a week of action to raise awareness on Invasive Alien Species and actions to prevent their spread. There are loads of events and activities planned this year in Ireland from webinars and workshops to guided tours and exhibits. Go to our calendar of events to find out more about how you can get involved.
Go to our calendar of events
Content from the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan teamTo do this month #NoMowMay
#NoMowMay is an annual campaign started by Plantlife in the UK, asking everyone to put away the lawnmower during the month of May to help our native wildlife.
Native Irish wildflowers like Dandelions, Clover, and Birds-foot trefoil provide the best source of pollen and nectar for our hungry wild pollinators. By mowing less, we can give them a chance to appear naturally – no seeds needed!
If you can, leave the lawn mower in the shed for the month of May to allow Clovers and other flowers to naturally bloom and feed hungry insects. You don’t have to let things go wild, but reducing mowing, even in small areas, will have a very positive impact on our pollinators (and it’s free!)
This year the National Biodiversity Data Centre is delighted to collaborate with An Post to promote No Mow May and encourage as many people as possible to take part.
Join the buzz to save the bees by sharing your #NoMowMay lawn on social media.
Find out more
All Councils on the island have signed up to the All-Ireland Pollinator PlanAs of March 2023, all 42 councils on the island of Ireland have formally signed up to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. We are delighted that every council is now formally partnered and committed to taking actions. This is a huge achievement that shows we are all on the same page when it comes to managing our landscape for biodiversity. We’d like to thank all our Council Partners for joining the effort to help pollinators and are looking forward to continuing to support them in taking the right actions in the coming years.
Find out more
New resource: Top Ten Pollinator-friendly Plants for Different SituationsThe All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is delighted to release a new free resource. Developed in collaboration with Dr Noeleen Smyth of Horticulture UCD, the booklet contains 24 lists of pollinator-friendly plants that are suitable for different situations. As you know, we always encourage you to prioritise native species. However, horticultural plants in garden settings can also help flower-visiting insects when they are rich in pollen and nectar. This guide is primarily aimed at helping you choose the best garden plants for pollinators.
Find out more and download the free guide here
Content from Explore Your Shore!
New Intertidal Fish and Invertebrates’ Swatch
The Data Centre is delighted to launch the latest identification swatch in our ‘Ireland’s Biodiversity’ series. The ‘Intertidal Fish and Invertebrates’ swatch will help you to identify 61 common intertidal fish and invertebrate species, from a beadlet anemone to a butterfish. You can use this swatch, along with our ‘Intertidal Seaweeds’ and ‘Marine Bivalve Shells’ swatches, to take part in our marine biodiversity recording project, Explore Your Shore! (www.exploreyourshore.ie).
Buy your swatch online today
New Explore Your Shore Survey!Explore Your Shore! wants You to help us find Ireland’s most Biodiverse rocky shore by taking part in The Great Rocky Shore BioBlitz! The survey will be of interest to anyone who has an interest in monitoring their local shore, improving their marine species identification skills, and contributing to our knowledge of Ireland’s coastal biodiversity. You can submit multiple species from the same location using our submission form. Revisit the same shore again and again, and at different times of year, to see if you can add additional species to the list. You can even submit photos of species you can’t identify!
To take part visit the survey web page
Seashore Splash! For Biodiversity Week 2023Biodiversity Week 2023 runs from the 19th – 28th May and to celebrate the Data Centre will be running our Seashore Splash! recording event, where we ask you to photograph and record as many marine species as you can during Biodiversity Week. How many marine species can you record in 30 minutes?… how many can you record in one week? And there will be prizes! two lucky recorders who submit records for our Seashore Splash! will win a copy of our brand identification swatch on Ireland’s Intertidal Fish and Invertebrates.
Click for full information, and to keep track of progress during Biodiversity Week
Spring Flowers Project – May 2023
The Spring Flowers Project is a joint initiative between the BSBI and the Data Centre which was kicked off in 2017, and comprises an agreement between both parties to target 20 easily identifiable spring flowers for recording, along with the provision of a special on-line recording form specifically for the project. This project is suitable for all knowledge levels and is also perfect for beginners or entry-level recorders, so if you’re interested in recording plants but don’t know where to start, why not check out our Spring Flowers Project.
The project is looking for records of 20 species, most of which are common and easily distinguished from other plant species. Spring flowers have already been spotted in flower, so over the coming weeks it’s a good time to get your eye in for what species are in your area. Things to look out for at this time of year are species like Primrose and Coltsfoot. Non-native species such as Winter Heliotrope and Three-Cornered Garlic are still also in flower and even when gone over are particularly noticeable.
There is currently 3700+ records already submitted through Ireland’s Citizen Science Portal for our chosen species, with Lesser Celandine still being the most heavily recorded. Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) is currently our fifth most recorded species and is an easy one to get you eye in for.
Bluebells Identification Tips:
Bluebells are currently in flower and carpeting woodland floors across the country. The flowers are blue/purple, Tubular-bells shaped flowers which droop on one side, the leaves are long, grass-like and fleshy. The species can be found carpeting woodland floors and also along laneways.
Native Bluebell can be told apart from the garden varieties or Hybrids by the long tubular-bell shaped flowers which are blue/purple & droop on one side. The others have a more upright appearance with flowers whorled all around the stem.
One to watch:
Wild Garlic/Ramsons (Allium ursinum) is another species that is fully in flower across much of the country. Similarly to Bluebells it can carpet woodland floors, clusters of white star-shaped flowers and long, broad leaves (smelling of garlic).
More information on the Spring Flowers Project can be found on our webpage here: https://biodiversityireland.
ie/surveys/spring-flowers- project-2023/ – as well as resources, like or Spring Flowers Project Spotter Sheets, which are available in both Irish and English. Keep an eye out on our social media platforms also and follow along using #SpringFlowersProject
Remember to submit all your sightings through
Content from Dragonfly Ireland
Dragonfly Dash! For Biodiversity Week 2023
To celebrate Biodiversity Week 2023 the Data Centre will be running our Dragonfly Dash! recording event, where we ask you to record as many dragonfly and damselfly species as you can from the 19th – 28th May. How many species can you record in 30 minutes?… how many can you record in one week? And there will be a prize! one lucky recorder who submits records for our Dragonfly Dash! will win a copy of a Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ireland by Robert Thompson and Brian Nelson.
Click for full information, and to keep track of progress during Biodiversity Week
Dragonfly Dash! For Biodiversity Week 2023
It’s that time of year when we start thinking of Dragonflies and Damselflies again. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is running Dragonfly and Damselfly identification workshops in five counties across Ireland. Courses are suitable for beginners to intermediate level.
- Glendalough, Co Wicklow – Sat 27th May
- Ballinafad, Co. Sligo – Sat 27th May
- Rosscahill, Co. Galway – Sat 10th June
- Cabragh Wetlands, Co. Tipperary – Sat 17th June
- Kilmurry, Co. Cork – Sat 24th June.
To book you place, visit our workshops page
Newsletter: April 2023
To spot this month: keep an eye out for the Tawny Mining Bee
This is one of our most distinctive solitary bees – look out for deep red hairs on the thorax and orange hairs on the abdomen. It usually comes out of hibernation in April and will be around until June. It nests by making little volcano-like burrows into bare soil and can be found in gardens.
The Tawny Mining bee (Andrena fulva) was thought to be extinct for 87 years in Ireland, before being rediscovered in 2012. It is now known from counties Dublin, Wicklow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Kildare & Carlow.
Can you help find more new populations?
Submit your solitary bee sightings
To do this month: #LetDandelionsBee
Dandelions are an important food source for pollinators at this time of year. According to Plantlife UK, eight dandelion flowers may produce enough nectar to meet an adult bumblebee’s baseline energy needs.
Where you can, Let Dandelions Bee! The photo speaks a thousand words for how much you’ll be helping our bees and other insects. The AIPP is not about planting wildflower seed, it’s about allowing native wildflowers to emerge naturally with less mowing.
Allow Dandelions to flower in April and then cut in preparation for #NoMowMay. This popular campaign next month is a chance to further celebrate the benefits of reduced mowing for pollinators.
New scheme to encourage farmers to record pollinatorsThe National Biodiversity Data Centre is delighted to launch a new ‘Biodiversity on your Farm’ project, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Run by the Pollinator Plan farmland officer, Ruth Wilson, this project will challenge farmers to find 40 species on their farm across the year. The weekly species have a pollinator focus and the project also includes a ‘biodiversity management tip’ for farmers each week.
New resource: Car parks for pollinatorsThe All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is delighted to release a new free resource: a flyer with guidance on how car parks can be managed to help pollinators. Car parks don’t immediately spring to mind as places that can support these important insects. But easy changes in management can turn them into crucial pollinator pitstops, whether in a business park, industrial estate, or shopping centre.
Hairy-footed Flower Bee update
Last month we asked you to keep an eye out for the Hairy-footed Flower Bee. The first Irish record of this species was made last March in Dublin. In good news, it has successfully hibernated and residents in Harold’s Cross have spotted it again this year!
It is a large solitary bee but can look like a bumblebee. The males and females are different to each other. Some females may resemble a small black bumblebee with distinctive orange hairs on the hind leg (photo below) and others can be more brownish like the males. Males have light brown/ginger hairs all over their body and cream markings on their face. They also have distinctive long hairs on their middle legs and feet, which is where the species gets its name. Their quick darting flight motion is a good way to tell them apart from bumblebees. In Britain, it shows a preference for Lungwort. Photos: Martin Fitzpatrick.
It’s still only known from Harold’s Cross in Dublin. Keep an eye out and send a photo if you think you find any new populations this spring!
Submit your solitary bee sightings
It’s time for Flower-Insect Timed Counts (FIT Counts) again!
FIT Counts are an important way that you can help us monitor pollinators. Download the free FIT Count App, watch a 50x50cm patch of flowers for 10 minutes and count how many insects visit. You can carry out a FIT Count anywhere, and on any flower, but where you can, please use one of our 15 target flowers. In April, its especially useful to carry out FIT Counts on Dandelion. You do need to wait until it’s sunny and at least 13C though!
In 2022, 673 validated FIT Counts were submitted by 137 different volunteers. The average number of insects per FIT Count was 8. The most common insect group recorded were bumblebees, and the most common habitat FIT Counts were carried out in was gardens. Visit the website to download the 2022 newsletter and see the full results of the scheme last year.
FIT Count website
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Newsletter: March 2023
To spot this month: keep an eye out for the Hairy-footed Flower Bee
The first Irish record of the Hairy-footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes) was made last March in Harold’s Cross, Dublin. It is a large solitary bee, but can look like a bumblebee. The males and females are very different to each other. The female resembles a small black bumblebee with distinctive orange hairs on the hind leg. In Britain, it shows a preference for Lungwort. Males have light brown/ginger hairs all over their body and cream markings on their face. They also have distinctive long orange hairs on their middle legs and feet, which is where the species gets its name. Their quick darting flight motion is a good way to tell them apart from bumblebees. Currently it is only known from the original sightings in Harold’s Cross in 2022. Keep an eye out and email a photo to me if you think you find any new populations this spring!
Photos: Martin Molloy.
Submit your solitary bee sightings
To do this month: check out what food wild bees preferred in 2022Every year, the National Biodiversity Data Centre receives thousands of bee sightings. In 2022, 1,482 bee records were submitted, that included information about what the bee was feeding on. This allows us to get as sense of what flowers they prefer. This year’s data again shows the importance of native plants, and of simple actions like Don’t mow, let it grow! Click the link below to read more, including which plants are key each month, and what simple actions you can take to ensure your site provides their favourite foods!
New resource: Residents’ Associations – actions for pollinatorsWe are delighted to release a new short booklet with guidance on how Residents’ Associations can help pollinators. The booklet includes a list of top ten actions for pollinators, details of common species to spot, and a calendar of flowers that will provide colour and pollen across the year. Click on the link below to read more and download the booklet.
New research shows that too many honey bees can threaten wild beesResearchers in Canada have found that too many honey bee hives can negatively impact wild bee species richness by outcompeting them for floral resources (food). They also found that solitary bees are at higher risk as they don’t have the ability to forage long distances in times of increased competition. They call for cities to maintain a registry of beekeepers with hive locations, so we can develop a better understanding of hive densities, locations, and the honey bee colony carrying capacities of city greenspaces. The author of the research has written a blog (link below) for the AIPP to summarise the findings of their paper.
Blog – Dispatches from Researchers
Faith Communities helping pollinatorsCarmel O’Neill has provided us with a lovely blog to summarise the excellent work carried out at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Lacken, Co. Wicklow. To read more click on the link below. We thank everyone, across all sectors, who are taking actions for pollinators and helping create a landscape where they can survive and thrive.
Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme begins again for 2023 – more volunteers needed
Within the National Biodiversity Data Centre, we have been monitoring bumblebees since 2012, through a citizen science scheme called the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme. Volunteers within this scheme walk a fixed ~1km route once a month from March to October and count the number of different bumblebees they spot. Beginners are very welcome, but the scheme does require a time commitment in learning how to identify the different bee species. This scheme has been slowly building through our amazing volunteers, but we still need to add another 20 walks over the coming years. March is the best time for beginners to join, as in early spring there will be fewer different species for you to learn to identify. If interested in becoming a volunteer, you can take our free course in identifying bumblebees which also explains how the scheme works: https://biodiversityireland.
On an island scale, the scheme helps us understand if bumblebees are increasing or declining. At site levels, it’s a great way to assess the impact of actions you are taking in support of the Pollinator Plan. If you decide you’d like to give it a try, please email me directly so that I can add you to my mailing list to receive the Monitoring Scheme monthly newsletter with hints and tips.
Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme website
Newsletter: February 2023
To spot this month: keep an eye out for large bumblebee queens as they emerge from hibernation
The two most common bumblebee queens you will spot this month are the Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) and the White-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum). They are similar to each other – both have one band on the thorax, one band on the abdomen and a whitish tail. The Buff-tailed bumblebee has orange bands and a buff or off-white tail. The White-tailed bumblebee has lemon yellow bands and a clean white tail. Submit your sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre. You can attach a photo if you’re not sure if you have the correct identification.
Submit your bumblebee sightings
To do this month: check if you have any early food sources for pollinatorsMost wild bees don’t come out of hibernation before March, but you will see some early bumblebees this month (like the two above). From next month, many native plants will begin flowering again, but in this early hunger gap gardens can be very important sources of food. It’s a big part of the reason why we promote bulb planting in autumn! It’s a good idea to have a look at your garden and check if there are any early flowering ornamental plants you could add.
Right Tree, Right Space, Right PlaceNative trees can be excellent sources of food for pollinators, especially in spring and early summer. Within the Pollinator Plan, we are delighted to release a new free resource: a flyer with guidance on planting trees for pollinators, produced with the support of the Tree Council of Ireland, the Native Woodland Trust, and Trees on the Land.
Top Ten BulbsIn April, the AIPP plans to launch a new Top Ten planting guideline with pollinator friendly plants for different situations. These are mostly ornamental plants and the guide is intended to help you choose the best plants in garden settings. We are delighted to have collaborated on this with Dr Noeleen Smyth in UCD. Below, you can get a taster with our top ten bulbs for pollinators. Your garden might have these already. If not, you should make a plan to add some in the autumn.
Please think twice about planting wildflower seed
Our pollinators need the native flowers they have evolved alongside. Studies have shown that the seeds in many wildflower seed mixes are imported from other countries, and are not native, despite what the packet might say. There is a huge risk of accidentally bringing in invasive species like Black grass that, if spread, would be devastating to the Irish agricultural industry.
Wildflower seed mixes are much more attractive to humans than to pollinators. If you decide to buy wildflower seed, source it very carefully, and never plant outside garden settings.
If you really want to help pollinators & biodiversity, our advice is always to Don’t Sow, Let it Grow
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Newsletter: January 2023
To do this month: Pledge your garden for pollinators
Across the island of Ireland, 751 gardens have been ‘Pledged for Pollinators’ – added to our online mapping system by people who are taking positive actions for pollinators in their gardens and outdoor spaces. ‘Pledging your garden for pollinators’ means you have chosen to make your outdoor space a healthy pitstop for pollinators like wild bees. By taking some simple actions, you can help provide much-needed food and shelter for these important insects, while creating a beautiful, colourful garden. If you are striving for a pollinator-friendly garden (or park, business, school, or community area), consider adding it to the Actions for Pollinators mapping system in 2023. This helps us keep track of the number of pollinator-friendly places on the island of Ireland and brings us closer to our goal of creating a landscape where pollinators can survive and thrive.
Learn how to make your garden pollinator friendly: https://pollinators.ie/
A huge thank you to everyone who has already pledged their garden and added it to the map ! Take a look at the Actions for Pollinators mapping system, and find out how to add your garden.
Go to Actions for Pollinators
To spot this month: Winter bumblebees
January is still a quiet month for sightings. The normal lifecycle of most Irish bumblebees ends when the workers and males die off and the newly mated queens hibernate through the cold Winter months. However, in recent years, the Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) has been seen foraging during winter months in both Ireland and in southern Britain. It is not known for certain what exactly is causing this. You can help improve our understanding by letting us know if you spot winter-active bumblebee workers. Photo: Ciaran Taylor
Submit your bumblebee sightings
National Biodiversity Data Centre helps develop GAA Green Club Toolkit
On Saturday 3rd December, the National Biodiversity Data Centre was one of several partner organisations who attended the launch of a new GAA Green Club Toolkit. This online toolkit provides simple advice for the implementation of sustainability actions at GAA clubs across five areas: Energy, Water, Waste, Biodiversity and Travel & Transport. It will be freely available to all GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association units and members.
The National Biodiversity Data Centre helped develop the biodiversity branch of the toolkit as an expert partner to the Green Club programme, drawing on the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan guidelines for pollinator-friendly management of sports clubs. Photo shows the Toolkit launch at Croke Park.
The islands first farmer moth monitoring projectMoths are important nocturnal pollinators. In 2022, Dr Saorla Kavanagh and Owen Beckett of the National Biodiversity Data Centre worked with a group of 20 farmers to support them in monitoring moths on their farms. The Farmer Moth Monitoring Project was a one-year EIP (European Innovation Partnership) project that was administered by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The project was a great success and demonstrated that a wide variety of moths can be found on Irish farms.Click on the link below to read more about the project and find a flyer on 6 common moths found on farmland.
Farmer Moth Monitoring Project
Free online identification courses from the National Biodiversity Data CentreThe National Biodiversity Data Centre has developed a series of free online identification courses. Winter is a great time to brush up on your skills, before the field season starts again. Learn about spiders, bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies or marine biodiversity.
Go to Ireland’s Biodiversity Learning Platform