Glanbia Ireland’s Operation Biodiversity to hit 100,000 native trees and hedgerow target in 2021

17 November 2021
General News

Glanbia Ireland and its family farm suppliers are working together, as part of Operation Biodiversity, to plant over 100,000 native trees and hedgerows in 2021, twelve months ahead of schedule.

In the 2021 phase of Operation Biodiversity, for every 15 native trees purchased, Glanbia Ireland is giving away a further 10 for free. Also for every two bare root hedgerow bundles purchased, Glanbia Ireland is giving a third bundle away at no additional cost, helping its farmers sow up to 10 metres more of hedges.

Glanbia Ireland Chairman John Murphy said they are proud to donate significant volumes of native trees and hedging plants as part of a long-term programme to encourage biodiversity, reduce risks to water quality and enhance carbon stocks. This year, Glanbia Ireland will also reward a Living Proof Sustainability Champion with a €5,000 prize fund in a competition on https://www.glanbiaconnect.com/news/search-our-living-proof-sustainability-champion

“Since its launch in December 2020, Operation Biodiversity has helped enrich our landscape. Every single native tree and metre of hedgerow planted is making a difference and builds on the great work that farm families are already doing as custodians of the land.

“We committed to planting 100,000 native trees and hedging plants over two years when we launched Operation Biodiversity last December. To date, our farm family suppliers have already planted 83,000 native trees and hedgerows. This shows the appetite for biodiversity and climate action on farms and in the community. This year, Glanbia Ireland is increasing our contribution to Operation Biodiversity, by funding additional native trees and hedging.

“We have also set up the €5,000 competition to showcase and recognise the school, voluntary group or community with the best sustainability credentials. We want to help it to deliver on its biodiversity ambition. Schools and communities do invaluable work to protect our environment and we’re anxious to play our part as promised under our ‘Living Proof’ sustainability strategy to support, reward and encourage these efforts.”

Dr Michelle Larkin, National Pollinator Monitoring Scheme Officer with the National Biodiversity Data Centre said: “Irish farms can be pollinator and biodiversity friendly without impacting on agricultural productivity. Low cost small actions can help improve pollinator biodiversity and biodiversity in general. Planting native trees and hedgerows is an excellent way to help.  Leaving hedgerows uncut for a minimum of three years is brilliant as it allows them to flower, giving pollinators food. Cutting hedges in rotation instead of all at once will also ensure that some areas of hedgerow will always flower,” she added.

Operation Biodiversity champion and award-winning dairy farmer Bryan Daniels is leading by example again this year. “It has been a busy year. We created a new 80 metre section of hedging and planted it with Whitethorn and Oak. We added in a few Ash trees that we had grown from seedlings. We also planted trees in the gaps in about another 50 metres of hedging.

“We’ve also added about 100 Scots Pine in groves and the plan now for the winter is to plant an extra 84 metres of hedging. Whitethorn is very much the dominant species on farm. But we like to add in something a little different every now and again to add a splash of colour, life and variety.”

Operation Biodiversity builds on the many actions already in progress on farms and in the community and on the strong foundations put in place by earlier Glanbia Ireland sustainability programmes, including Operation PolliNation and Operation WildNation.

As the tree and hedgerow planting season opens,  horticulturists in Glanbia Ireland’s 14 award-winning CountryLife Garden Centres and employees in their 50 plus local stores are helping farm families pick the right hedging plants and trees for their individual soil type, providing shelter and food for wildlife while also boosting their sustainability credentials.

Tree and hedgerow bundles have been grouped by soil type, ensuring everyone chooses the right variety with the best chance of flourishing for generations to come. For acidic soil, Operation Biodiversity tree bundles include Alder, Oak, Scots Pine, Mountain Ash and Birch. For limey soil, varieties include Grey Willow, Oak and Mountain Ash.

For acidic soil, hedgerow bundles include Whitethorn, Blackthorn and Alder, as well as Oak, Scots Pine and Mountain Ash. Hedgerow bundles for limey soil include a mix of Whitethorn, Euonymus Europaeus, Hazel, Grey Willow, Oak and Mountain Ash.