Gas Networks Ireland, part of the Ervia Group, owns, builds and maintains the country’s natural gas network, connecting over 688,000 homes and businesses to safe, efficient and secure supply of natural gas.
With assets all over the island of Ireland, Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) identified that there was a great opportunity for the company to enhance biodiversity and create a network of pollinator-friendly habitats across the country with the implementation of simple biodiversity management initiatives. In 2017 GNI kicked off a biodiversity programme with the aim of enhancing biodiversity at a number of sites.
A pilot study was carried out at one of GNI’s large natural gas district regulation stations known as “Above Ground Installations” (AGIs), Brownsbarn AGI, Co. Dublin. For Brownsbarn AGI, GNI undertook a survey to establish the ecological baseline and introduced a number of measures to help promote biodiversity. These included restricting access to a site pond, planting flower bulbs to support pollinators, installing bird boxes and reducing the frequency in grass cutting at the sites. In addition, a post-doctoral researcher from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) commenced a study at the site to see how herbicides and fertilisers affect the health of bees. The project, a collaboration between TCD, Business in the Community and GNI examines how the treatment of flowers with different levels of herbicide and fertiliser affects the pollination process. Throughout the programme, workshops and talks are regularly carried out with staff to help improve biodiversity awareness.
GNI also signed up to support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, and met with Biodiversity Ireland as part of the programme. Following on from 2017, GNI initiated another ecological survey to be carried out in April 2018 to evaluate the effect of the biodiversity initiatives implemented at Brownsbarn AGI. GNI have also identified a number of other suitable AGIs across the island the Ireland and are in the process of expanding the programme to these sites, as well as our office sites in Dublin and Cork. GNI have also influenced their main contractor to support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan
Biodiversity is something everyone can get involved in. GNI encourages staff and its contractors to support biodiversity, and consider their implications from the early stages of a project to construction and operation stage. Biodiversity also offers great opportunities to collaborate with the community on biodiversity projects.
GNI are also in talks with Cork City County Council and South Dublin County Council with regards to collaborating on biodiversity initiatives. GNI also supported 2018 National Biodiversity Week in May, by carrying out a number of biodiversity awareness events, as well as a Biodiversity photography competition for employees, insect hotel building workshop and supporting 50,000 ‘Butterflies of Ireland’ posters in The Irish Examiner.
GNI continues to encourage staff and its contractors to consider its implications from the early stages of every project and to re-enforce the importance of including biodiversity elements at every stage of their projects/activities. GNI will be presenting the next BITC Biodiversity Workshop Event in September 2018 and will continue to engage with all stakeholders with regards to the Biodiversity plan and further developments.
This initiative has been shortlisted for the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards 2018.