Friday, 25 June 2010

Making Butterflies Count

The last three years have seen butterflies in the UK experience the most dramatic decline in numbers since records began, with almost half of them now under threat. To help bring an end to this, Marks & Spencer and Butterfly Conservation are teaming up to launch Making Butterflies Count.

The Making Butterflies Count initiative targets both M&S customers and suppliers to raise awareness about the importance of butterflies and moths and encourage them to take action to reverse their devastating declines. This valuable partnership is part of the retailer's eco-plan, Plan A commitment to be the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.

Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, said: "Butterflies are wonderful, extraordinary creatures. Numbers have been falling, but Butterfly Conservation scientists have demonstrated that these declines can be reversed. They have also found that when you change the environment to help butterflies thrive, all sorts of other wildlife benefits too. Nature comes back to life. I'm delighted Marks & Spencer is working with Butterfly Conservation and I wish them every success implementing their ambitious Plan A commitments."

Butterflies and moths are very sensitive to environmental change, which makes them a very good indicator of the health of the countryside. They are essential for the pollination of plants and caterpillars provide food for many birds and other wildlife. If the UK lost all of its butterflies and moths, farmers would see a big drop in numbers of other wildlife and impacts on crop yields.

Richard Gillies, M&S Director of Plan A, commented: "We want to lead the way in making a positive contribution to the environment and society across everything we do and everything we sell. Our partnership with Butterfly Conservation is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness with both our farmers and our customers about the importance of butterflies. We hope that our campaign will be a major way of helping to reverse the long-term decline of butterflies and moths, as well as enhancing the habitats for wildlife and improving the environment for us all."

As part of the Butterfly Conservation partnership, M&S wants to engage all of it's farmers in the UK to help protect the butterfly. Over the next 12 months Butterfly Conservation will visit key M&S farmers, and all M&S farmers will be given advice on how to encourage and maintain more butterflies on their farms.

The retailer is launching a range of butterfly related products including plants which attract butterflies, butterfly adorned products such as t-shirts and jewellery, to help raise awareness about the importance of butterflies, whilst M&S will also be making a donation from the sale of the products to Butterfly Conservation.

Richard Gillies continued: "We want to make it as easy as possible for all our customers and farmers to get involved - with the launch of the Big Butterfly Count, our fantastic range of products, and also the support our farmers will be getting from Butterfly Conservation, there should be something for everyone."

Link: Butterfly Conservation Campaign
Link: Carrickfergus in Bloom Blooming Wild!

Friday, 18 June 2010

2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition

The 2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition was launched yesterday (Thursday 17th June) in the sunny natural surroundings of Castle Espie Wetland Centre, County Down. Representatives from Carrickfergus Borough attended the event.

This year there are 130 entries representing councils, community groups and businesses as well as 36 bus and train stations. Supported by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), the awards are now in their 32nd year and continue to attract the very highest standards of plant and floral displays.

Speaking at the official launch, Translink Chairman Veronica Palmer said it is important that Northern Ireland continues to look after its unique living landscapes. “Our Ulster in Bloom participants play an important role in cities, towns and villages by not only creating beautiful plant and floral arrangements for local people and visitors to enjoy but also by supporting biodiversity; providing vital habitats for local wildlife to flourish and sustaining natural eco-systems.

“The exceptional standard of entries last year shows that Northern Ireland has a flair and passion for horticulture and we want to reward those individuals and organisations who make that extra effort to enhance their natural surroundings.”

President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, Councillor John Mathews said “The Translink Ulster in Bloom competition has made, and continues to make a remarkable contribution to the improvement and enhancement of the villages, towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The competition was started back in 1979 by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, since then it has grown considerably, this year receiving 130 entries.

“It is my pleasure to congratulate and thank the participating councils, their staff and local residents for their interest, enthusiasm and horticultural contribution which further enhances the communities in which we live. NILGA members are very pleased to support this event and the sponsors. We will also continue to support councils as they recognise the value of supporting Ulster in Bloom. I wish all entrants every success”.

Board member, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Alistair McGowan said “The Ulster in Bloom competition is an invaluable tool for attracting visitors; it also ensures that their stay in Northern Ireland is even more pleasant. If our visitors have an enjoyable and memorable time they will spread the good word.

“An increase in the ‘staycation’ trend shows how holidaymakers have decided to stay in Northern Ireland rather than travel abroad. Destinations at home are perfect for an affordable weekend away and families can enjoy days out at a wide range of Northern Ireland’s finest attractions, taking in many of the beautiful towns and villages which are adorned with flowerbeds, hanging baskets, trees and floral displays. All of the entrants should be proud of their hard work.”

For further information on the 2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition click or for local information click

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Swan kill condemned

Carrickfergus Borough Council has condemned the killing of a swan at the Amphitheatre Wildlife Ponds in Carrickfergus. Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council said "The swan was killed by a single shot crossbow sometime yesterday evening (9th June 2010) from a dart lodged in its neck. The bird's mate and seven cygnets’ were thankfully not injured during the vicious attack at the wildlife ponds off Prince William Way in Carrickfergus. The police have been contacted and have launched an inquiry after the dead bird was discovered on Thursday morning." "The swan would have died a slow and painful death and it is vital that those responsible or those who have evidence pertaining to this attack contact the police immediately. Whoever is responsible must be found so that we can prevent other animals from falling victim to this kind of senseless violence. We see far too many cases where people seem to think they can simply use animals for target practice." The offenders could face a fine of up to £5,000 under the The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.