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At Wild Encounters we believe conservation should start at home, and since obtaining our new site, we have been busy finding ways to increase the biodiversity of native wildlife in our area.

Bugs are perhaps the least liked of all the animal groups, people just aren't keen, but they are actually possibly the most important of the animal groups. If we didn't have bugs, we wouldn't have any other living thing on this planet!!!

Pesticides and insecticides have seriously depleted the population of solitary bees in recent years, and they're pretty misunderstood creatures! Pretty harmless, they just want to be left alone to go about their business collecting nectar and pollen and without them, the world would be a pretty bleak place! Those fruits you like so much? Forget them without critters like the bees! We've added 'bug hotels' with specifically designed areas for solitary bees and other critters to take refuge and breed. We've also been busy planting plants such as lavenders, a bee favourite, to encourage these cool little animals to take up residence in higher numbers on our site.

Once you get a higher diversity of insects and other minibeasts visiting the area, it won't be long until more wildlife moves in to take advantage of the extra food now on offer! Bats are another animal that we feel could do with a little help here in Ireland. We hope that by putting up bat boxes we can encourage more into the area and we hope to see evidence of them around the box areas.

A long term plan for us to bring more biodiversity onto our site is the recent planting of lots of young trees around the site. A single tree can be a mini habitat for lots of different animals, and our plan is to turn what is currently agricultural land, into a mini habitat full of trees, shrubs and plants, providing food, shelter and breeding sites for a multitude of species.

Other long term projects for us is a designated compost area for our old animal bedding, waste and food. We want to make our site as 'green' as possible and this is one of the projects in the pipeline to help us. Another is the use of as much renewable energy as possible around the site. We already have solar panels up that provide much of the power needed for our reptile house, even on dull days. As we expand we hope to be able to add more sources of renewable energy to power our energy requirements.

As we get bigger, we hope to get involved in other conservation efforts, perhaps housing and breeding certain endangered animals. We can't wait to see how our site develops, what native wildlife will choose to call Wild Encounters their home, and what else we can get involved with!