Biodiversity the winner as Encirc 12-month school ponds project comes to fruition

June 2024
Pictured at the official opening of the wildlife ponds at St. Aidan’s High School, Derrylin are (from left) Sheila Curry, Encirc; John Brough, Encirc; Molly McDermott, St. Aidan’s; Fiacre O’Donnell, Encirc; Christina O’Reilly, St. Aidan’s; Jack Meehan, St. Aidan’s, Ciaran Creegan, Encirc and Pat McTeggart, St. Aidan’s principal.
Christina O'Reilly and Ciaran Creegan admiring the hanging baskets at St. Aidan's, Derrylin.

A 12-month biodiversity project between Encirc and St. Aidan’s High School, Derrylin has culminated with the opening of three ponds at the school.

It is hoped the ponds will capture rainwater and support biodiversity by creating habitats and providing resources for various species to survive and thrive.

Encirc, part of the Vidrala Group, is currently involved in several biodiversity projects with over 10 schools throughout the county, engaging almost 1,500 pupils in the process.

The Derrylin project started last May with Encirc providing a lot of the materials needed for the construction of the ponds while staff members came to the school at different stages to carry out the work as needed.

The ponds will give pupils an insight into how the capture of the rainwater can create habitats for various aquatic and terrestrial species, such as frogs, insects, birds, and plants.

Ponds also provide food sources for many organisms, supporting a diverse range of life forms.

In addition, many species use ponds as breeding grounds, helping to sustain and increase their populations.

The ponds can also help the water cycle. Ponds store rainwater, which can help manage stormwater and reduce flooding. Some water from ponds seeps into the ground, replenishing groundwater supplies. Indeed, water from ponds also evaporates and is released into the atmosphere through plants (transpiration), contributing to cloud formation and future precipitation.

Sustainability Director at Encirc, Fiacre O’Donnell commented: “We have a biodiversity committee at Encirc which has 46 people on it, nearly 10 per cent of our Derrylin workforce. I must commend them for this initiative and all the hard work that has helped to create the ponds.

“Encirc’s Biodiversity strategy is an all-encompassing commitment to improving not only our workplace but our local communities with a long term, sustainable plan that achieves continual biodiversity enhancement.

“We want to start conversations about biodiversity and through our actions we want to change how everybody, especially schoolchildren see our natural environment.”

Fiacre added: “Our sustainability strategy at Encirc is very important to us. However, sustainability is about much more than taking carbon out of the production process, biodiversity plays a huge role in our overall sustainability strategy. We are also delighted to partner with St. Aidan’s, our neighbours here in Derrylin, and we can’t wait to see the results of the ponds in the coming weeks and months.”

Christina O’Reilly, St. Aidan’s said: “St. Aidan’s has been working to improve their local environment for several years now with the support of Encirc.

“They have built bird boxes and bird tables, vegetable beds, a pollinator flowerbed and now a three-pond system whereby we divert rainwater into ponds to encourage wildlife and improve biodiversity on the school grounds. They have worked in conjunction with the Ulster Wildlife Trust to identify local wildlife and indeed have published a book on the wildlife found on the grounds at Encirc.”

Christina further explained: “St. Aidan’s supply Encirc with their hanging baskets, while Encirc provide the school with used pallets for bug hotels, to build composters and as a material for Art projects within the school grounds. The school have also sold their organic vegetables and plants to the employees.

“We hope to continue this important working relationship where the pupils benefit from these wonderful opportunities to learn more about their environment and how to protect it,” she said.

‘We want to start conversations about biodiversity and through our actions we want to change how everybody, especially schoolchildren see our natural environment’

Fiacre O'Donnell.

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