Catchment News

Nature on our Doorsteps: Volume 1

Many of us of a certain generation who have an interest in nature and conservation most likely grew up searching hard for any information on the creatures and plants that lived around us at home.

Trips to the Library or to local book shops would of course have yielded information but this mostly addressed British birds, plants, trees and insects. In fact, growing up, we probably knew more about the exotically named butterflies on the chalk downs in Britain or about the lions and gazelles in the Serengeti National Park than we did about the snails, bumblebees, or ‘weeds’ in our own back gardens.

Nature on our Doorsteps: Volume 1

A recently published book, ‘Nature on our Doorsteps; Volume 1’ offers a little glimpse into some of these everyday features of the natural heritage in our own immediate environment, attempting to raise the profile of those things that are generally overlooked because they are seen as being ‘ordinary’.

Following the seasons throughout the year, this book highlights a range of both well-known and less recognised insects, plants and invertebrates that can literally be found in our own back gardens, if we take the time to look.

Yellow Bird’s-foot Trefoil and Red Clover are loved by pollinators for their rich source of nectar.

The book is a product of a partnership between South Dublin County Council’s Heritage Officer, Rosaleen Dwyer, and the Echo Newspaper Group in Tallaght, Co. Dublin. Since July 2017, The Echo has published weekly biodiversity columns as provided by the Council’s Heritage Officer. The articles are short, approximately 200 words, and are accompanied by two photographs. They follow the seasonal changes that occur in the gardens, parks, roadside verges and public open spaces in South Dublin County, anywhere that most people are likely to encounter nature.

The only skill that is required is the ability to stop, stand, and look.

For many people, ‘buzzing’ things are to be shooed away or squashed before they sting. This leaves very little time to observe what their true identities are, how they behave, or how we might be benefiting from their activities. They may turn out to be a rare or a threatened bumblebee, or even a fascinating bumblebee mimic – a ‘bumblebee in disguise’.

This yellow Crab spider is well camouflaged while it glues leaves together to form a pouch for its eggs.

Who are nature’s recyclers and nature’s colonisers? What are witch’s brooms? When is a berry not a berry? Why do some trees hang onto withered leaves over winter? What exactly is stem ‘spittle’? How do plants survive the cold of winter? Why are cowslips the ‘come-back kid’? Who are nature’s air conditioners?

These are just some of the topics covered in Volume 1 of Nature on our Doorsteps. A second volume is expected later in 2020. While being everyday examples of the natural diversity that is to be found around us, the subjects at the heart of these articles are the basic building blocks of the natural world. Protecting and enhancing these ‘ordinary’ building blocks is therefore key to protecting our own future as a species. The first step is getting to know and value what is around us.

Rosaleen Dwyer, Heritage Officer, South Dublin County Council

Learn more:

Nature on our Doorsteps Volume 1 is available from the County Library, Tallaght, Dublin.

At a quick glance, this Great Pied Hoverfly could be mistaken for a bumblebee.

Who is involved?

Quite simply, everyone in Ireland has a role to play. This can be from something as simple as making sure you don’t pollute your local stream, or a local community working together to establish a Rivers Trust to enhance the rivers and lakes in their area, to a Government Department or Agency helping a Minister implement a new policy to help protect and enhance all our water bodies.

This website has been developed and is maintained by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is a collaboration between the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Local Authority Waters Programme.


Local Authority Waters Programme

The Local Authority Waters Programme coordinates the efforts of local authorities and other public bodies in the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan, and supports local community and stakeholder involvement in managing our natural waters, for everyone’s benefit.


Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is responsible for coordinating the monitoring, assessment and reporting on the status of our 4,842 water bodies, looking at trends and changes, determining which waterbodies are at risk and what could be causing this, and drafting environmental objectives for each.


Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

The Department is responsible for making sure that the right policies, regulations and resources are in place to implement the Water Framework Directive, and developing a River Basin Management Plan and Programme of Measures to protect and restore our waters.