Two-thirds of Cork’s urban landscape supports biodiversity, finds research

Two-thirds of Cork’s urban landscape supports biodiversity, finds research

Meadow Pipit: meadow pipits were found breeding in Tramore Valley Park, a red listed species in Ireland. Photo Credit, Luke Lambert

NEW research from University College Cork has found that almost two-thirds of the urban landscape of Cork city supports biodiversity.

The research also found that almost four in 10 types of bird in Cork’s urban environment is a vulnerable species.

The research team, based in UCC’s Department of Geography and Environmental Research Institute, used satellite imagery to create a fine-scale land cover map of the city, undertook a survey of bird diversity, and then analysed the configuration of the urban landscape of the city and its impact on the recorded biodiversity.

They now estimate that almost two-thirds of Cork city can be considered green or blue, with these spaces positively impacting bird diversity and abundance.

Of note were ‘invisible’ green spaces, such as gardens, hedgerows, and ponds, which when considered at a city-scale suggest that Cork has a well-connected green and blue network, with this connectivity central to supporting biodiversity.

Lead author Luke Lambert described the importance of the project: “The recording of kingfishers and grey wagtails during the surveys indicated that the waters of the River Lee are in a healthy state and sustaining an important freshwater ecosystem.”

He added: “The Lee and its tributaries also proved to provide an important connective network for birds to move from one green space to another with relative ease. Additionally, the species recorded in Glen River Park, Atlantic Pond and the recently opened Tramore Valley Park highlighted the importance of mixed habitats, with these sites recording the highest total species counts in the city.”

Co-author Dr Fiona Cawkwell said: “High spatial resolution satellite sensors that acquire images across visible and infrared wavelengths, such as the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 instruments, are invaluable for mapping large areas in detail and capturing change over time.”

UCC’s Dr Paul Holloway said: “There is a pressing need to identify habitats within urban environments, and this research has highlighted that urban gardens and brownfield sites are important contributors to the sustainable management of biodiversity within cities.”

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