Protecting Farmland Pollinators

Newsletter of Farming Kids

 

We are delighted to announce our first Newsletter for farming kids is available for download. Newsletter Farming Kids EIP Pollinators Issue 1

 

 

This Newsletter will be produced biannually. Issue 1 is an extended special issue. We hope you learn lots of fun facts about pollinators.

Protecting Farmland Pollinators is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The project is coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

 

Project Launch – Press Release

 

 

March 3rd saw the launch of the Protecting Farmland Pollinators European Innovation Partnership Project. The European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs) funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. This project is about small actions that will allow biodiversity to co-exist within a productive farming system. It aims to help farmers to provide small habitats that will offer food, safety and shelter on their farms for pollinators (bees, hoverflies) and other biodiversity. It will develop a whole-farm pollinator scoring system and will identify what management practices on Irish farmland most benefit pollinators. The project will also reward participating farmers for pollinator-friendly management.

 

Pollinators are important to farmers who grow insect pollinated crops, fruits and vegetables; to our economy; to marketing our produce abroad; and to the health of our environment. But farmland has experienced wide-scale loss of wild pollinators over the last fifty years. In Ireland, one third of our 99 bee species are threatened with extinction.

 

The five-year project will be run with a group of 40 farmers who have been recruited across farm types and intensity levels in Kildare and neighbouring counties. It will be a results-based payment system – the higher the pollinator score of the farm, the more the farmer will be paid annually.

 

The Protecting Farmland Pollinators Project is built on evidence-based actions that will allow pollinators to survive and thrive. In taking action to protect pollinators, we start a chain reaction that has positive benefits for the general health of our environment, as well as our own wellbeing and that of future generations. “We are delighted to be part of this project” said, Andrew Bergin, one of the participant farmers, “by taking small actions we can make a positive difference. What’s good for the farmer is also good for the pollinator”.

 

The project will develop and test a whole-farm pollinator scoring system that can be easily calculated, easily understood and easily improved (and in line with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan’s evidence-based actions for farmland). It will also include insect and plant surveys to confirm that farms with higher scores do have more pollinators (bees, hoverflies) and more biodiversity generally. It is hoped this project will demonstrate how this scoring system could be rolled out on a national scale in the future.

 

Project Manager, Dr Saorla Kavanagh commented, “This project brings farmers and scientists together to come up with solutions to protect biodiversity. I believe that by working together we can generate practical and measurable actions that will help our pollinators, wider biodiversity and farmers”.

 

The project will enable all farmers to understand how pollinator-friendly their farm is, and what simple, low-cost actions they can take to work towards improving their whole farm for pollinators and other biodiversity in a measurable way that does not negatively impact on productivity. Within the project, farmers receive an annual payment based on their overall farm pollinator score which is calculated based on the amount and quality of habitat on the farm.

 

According to Dr Úna FitzPatrick, senior ecologist in the National Biodiversity Data Centre and coordinator of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, one of the main reasons for bee declines is hunger – there are simply not enough wildflowers in our landscapes today to provide enough food for bees. “The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is not just about conserving bees but is also about protecting the livelihood of farmers and growers who rely on their ‘free’ pollinator service, which allows consumers to buy Irish fruit and vegetables at an affordable price. We are grateful for the opportunity to work alongside farmers within this project so that together we can develop realistic solutions” said Dr FitzPatrick.

 

The project is coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, and the operational group includes, Trinity College Dublin, Bord Bia, Glanbia, Teagasc, Macra na Feirme, HEINEKEN Ireland and four representative farmers across farm types.

 

Aspects of the Project are subject to change in response to participant feedback and project monitoring.

 

Ends

 

NOTES FOR THE EDITOR FACTS:

  • We have 99 wild Bee species in Ireland. 30% are threatened with extinction.
  • Over 60% of Ireland’s bees are mining bees. These bees need access to bare soil in order to dig their nests.
  • Declines in wildflowers are subjecting our pollinators to starvation.
  • Our tendency to ‘tidy up’ the landscape rather than allowing wildflowers to grow along roadsides, field margins, and in gardens is playing a big part in reducing resources for bees.

 

Contacts:

 

Dr Saorla Kavanagh is a Farmland Pollinator Officer with the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the Project Manager of the Protecting Farmland Pollinators Project.

Tel: +35351306240 M: +353861407889 Email: skavanagh@biodiversityireland.ie

Protecting Farmland Pollinators project website: https://www.biodiversityireland.ie/farmland

 

Dr Úna Fitzpatrick is a Senior Ecologist with the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Project Coordinator and Steering Group Chair for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and the Protecting Farmland Pollinator EIP.

M: 086-045 6113 Tel.: +353-51-306240 Email: ufitzpatrick@biodiversityireland.ie

All-Ireland Pollinator plan website: www.pollinators.ie

 

About the National Biodiversity Data Centre:

 

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is a national organisation responsible for the collection, collation, management, analysis and dissemination of data on Ireland’s biological diversity. Biodiversity data are a key requirement for understanding our natural surroundings, for tracking change in our environment and for gaining a greater insight on how we benefit from, and impact upon, the ecosystem goods and services provided by biological diversity; a national asset which contributes at least €2.8 billion to the Irish economy each year. The Data Centre was established by the Heritage Council in 2007 and is funded by the Heritage Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.