Cook Medical is located on the banks of the Shannon on the outskirts of Limerick city and are lucky to be surrounded by a number beautiful natural habitats that their staff and members of the public enjoy on a regular basis. In 2018, they decided to create a walking path around the grounds. They wanted to incorporate biodiversity into the planning of the route and understand what they could do to enhance the habitats they already have. Following a visit from Business in the Community’s Biodiversity Specialist, we decided to start with an ecological baseline.
A botanical survey of the various plant species on and around our site was undertaken and provided some fascinating results: it supports at least 110 species of plant (94 of which are native), as well as an array of birds, mammals, pollinators and other invertebrates: badgers, foxes, hares, rabbits, a barn owl, starlings, swallows, pied
wagtails, robins, various species of butterfly and hoverfly, and brown hawker dragonflies. The site also features
seven different habitat types, including three of particular ecological note:
Hedgerows and Treelines
The hedgerow and treeline flanking the south-western edge of the site is shown as a treeline in old maps from the start of the 20th century, and has a number of impressive old trees. There is an impressive diversity of tree and shrub species within the hedgerow, which is greatly enhanced by the presence of a small stream at the south-western side and by its generous width at the base. Old, wide hedgerows provide habitat for many species of
plants and animals, and so are of great biodiversity value.
While the riverside woods are severely compromised by non-native and highly invasive species such as Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed, it is still an area of high importance at this site due to its setting, beauty, and ecological value. This site runs directly adjacent to (and may have small portions within) the Lower River Shannon Special Area of Conservation.
The large fields of calcareous grassland are not particularly diverse in terms of species, but those present point to the fact that the area is not intensively managed and has not been re-seeded, making it likely to be valuable for
wildlife. There are many herbaceous plants, and grasses form a smaller proportion than in an intensively managed field.Cook Medical’s next steps will be to develop a Biodiversity Action Plan that gives guidance to interested employees who have volunteered to focus on biodiversity as part of Cook’s Corporate Citizenship Programme and help to inform future actions to enhance the habitats they have, create new ones where appropriate, engage their staff with biodiversity on their doorstep and support our local communities.
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