Biodiversity & Natural Heritage
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Biodiversity is short for ‘biological diversity’. It was defined in the 1992 Convention of Biological Diversity as ‘The variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and othe aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of the ecosystems’. Biodiversity is a collective term for all the different living organisms on the planet including bacteria, plants and animals as well as their habitats. Put simply, biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms.
In Galway, we are fortunate to have such a rich natural heritage, much of it relatively unspoilt. Galway’s biodiversity includes habitats and species of plants and animals that are rare or absent elsewhere in Ireland and Europe. Intact blanket bogs, raised bogs, sea cliffs, sand dunes, turloughs, river callows, limestone pavement, maerl beaches and species rich grassland are just some of the habitats of national and international importance to be found in County Galway.
The Heritage Act, 1995 gives the following definitions of fauna, flora, geology, landscapes, seascapes and wildlife habitat:
All wild birds and all wild animals (both aquatic and terrestrial) and includes in particular fish, wild mammals, reptiles, non-aquatic invertebrate animals and amphibians, and all such wild animals' eggs, larvae, pupae or other immature stage and young, but in relation to fish or aquatic invertebrate animals (or their eggs or spawn or other immature stage or brood or young) only includes fish and such aquatic invertebrate animals of a species specified in regulations under section 23 of the Wildlife Act, 1976, which are for the time being in force.
All plants (both aquatic and terrestrial) which occur in the wild (whether within or outside the State) other than trees, shrubs or plants being grown in the course of agriculture, forestry or horticulture and includes in particular lichens, mosses, liverworts, fungi, algae and vascular plants, namely flowering plants, ferns and fern-allied plants and any community of such plants.
The study of the planet Earth as a whole or in part, the materials of which it is made, the processes that act and have acted upon these materials and the products and structures formed by such action, the physical and biological history of the planet since its origin including the history of life preserved as fossils in rocks and deposits at the surface or in layers beneath the surface of the earth, stratigraphic succession, caves, fossil content or any other items of scientific interest, and includes geomorphology, lithology and mineralogy.
Areas, sites, vistas and features of significant scenic, archaeological, geological, historical, ecological or other scientific interest.
Areas and sites of coastal water including estuaries, bays and lagoons of significant scenic, geological, ecological or other scientific interest.
The ecological environment in which particular organisms and communities there of thrive.