Ireland’s pollinating insects are under threat, with one-third of our 98 wild bee species at risk of extinction. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan aims to reverse these declines and has identified 42 specific evidence-based actions to make public land, farmland, and private land pollinator friendly. Actions range from reducing grass-cutting – to allow wildflowers to grow on public lands, to protecting nesting sites and reducing pesticide use. The Council: Actions for Pollinators guidelines (www.pollinators.ie/councils) offer 30 pollinator-friendly actions to choose from. There are instructions for each action, suggestions for where it might be applied, what staff could assist, and a pollinator-friendly planting code.
Since the publication of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan in 2015, local authorities across the island have offered support and adopted pollinator-friendly policies. In addition to training parks staff on actions, reducing mowing, and switching to pollinator-friendly planting, staff in many councils have also come up with innovative and creative ways to help the Pollinator Plan gain momentum.
Here are just a few examples of how local authorities have supported the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. This list is by no means exhaustive:
- The Heritage Offices of Waterford County Council, Tipperary County Council, Wicklow, Kilkenny and Kildare County Councils have each funded the production of online videos about the Pollinator Plan, and about specific actions on farmland, meadows, hedgerows and monitoring, which have been hugely valuable in creating awareness among a wide audience.
- The Environmental Awareness Officer network have been working with their local Tidy Towns groups and Public Participation Networks, funding local projects that support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
- In 2019, Fingal County Council funded a major awareness campaign, including distribution of materials, and a bus shelter and poster campaign; and have a plan a cinema advertising campaign in 2020.
- Many Heritage Officers have directly funded the printing of Pollinator Plan materials which they then distribute through local PPNs, Tidy Towns groups, residents’ associations, and local schools.
- Many councils have run CPD workshops on pollinator-friendly actions for Council staff as well as training for the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme.
- Many parks staff across the country have really embraced the Pollinator Plan and have entered their parks in the Green Flag for Parks Pollinator Award.
- Dun Laoghaoire Rathdown County Council introduced major changes to their grass management across the county, moving towards a pollinator-friendly mowing regime, as well as being at the forefront of trials in alternatives to chemical pesticides.
- In 2019, Cork County and Cork City Councils joint-funded our annual conference. Limerick City and County Council are hosting the 2021 Conference on Pollinator Conservation, as well as webinars in 2020.
- The Heritage and Biodiversity Officer Network fund the Tidy Towns Local Authority Pollinator Award, which has been running since 2016, with over 160 towns and villages entering the competition and we are told over 80% of the c.1,000 general Tidy Towns entrants are now taking actions for pollinators.
- Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council are responsible for an exciting project called ‘Don’t Mow, Let It Grow’, which focuses on the conservation of semi-natural grassland on local road verges and amenity grasslands, creating lots of pollinator-friendly habitat.
- Derry City & Strabane District Council developed the first Green Infrastructure Plan 2019-2032 and associated Green Infrastructure Action Plan in Northern Ireland. Biodiversity is a key part of this plan and saw the creation of a Pollinator Plan for council-owned green spaces and purchasing of equipment to change the grass management regime at key green spaces in 2020. “This plan enhances ecological connectivity, contributes towards biodiversity net gain and increases the existing natural capital value of these sites for pollinators by £6,500 / annum. This change will also prevent 1.6 Tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from the reduction in grass cutting.”
55% of Councils have already signed up as partners under the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Partnership Framework:
- Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council (Nov 2019)
- Ards and North Down Borough Council (April 2019)
- Clare County Council (Feb 2020)
- Cork City Council (Sept 2019)
- Derry City & Strabane District Council (April 2020)
- Donegal County Council (Jan 2020)
- Dublin City Council (Mar 2019)
- Dun Laoghaoire Rathdown County Council (Mar 2019)
- Fingal County Council (Mar 2019)
- Galway City Council (May 2020)
- Kerry County Council (June 2019)
- Kilkenny County Council (Feb 2019)
- Limerick City & County Council (Feb 2019)
- Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council (Mar 2019)
- Mayo County Council (June 2019)
- Meath County Council (Nov 2019)
- Monaghan County Council (June 2019)
- Offaly County Council (April 2020)
- South Dublin County Council (Nov 2019)
- Tipperary County Council (April 2019)
- Waterford City & County Council (April 2019)
- Wexford County Council (April 2019)
- Westmeath County Council (Feb 2020)
- Wicklow County Council (Nov 2019)
With current environmental challenges, including Climate Change, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan offers local authorities a toolkit to protect the free ecosystem services provided by pollinating insects, while at the same time helping all biodiversity. Some 23 local authorities have become formal partners, creating a network for knowledge sharing across the island. Councils who have successfully eliminated the use of pesticides have been able to offer guidance to others. Authorities who have reduced mowing in public areas have been able to pass on lessons learned and tips on how they overcame practical challenges to grass management or responded to public reactions to longer grass.
We hope that all Local Authorities will consider signing up as AIPP partners so that together, we can make positive changes for biodiversity and change the plight of our pollinators.
For more information see: www.pollinators.ie/councils
– Juanita Browne, All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Project Officer