The business of helping pollinators

When we published the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan at the end of 2015, I didn’t envisage businesses playing a big role in helping. I couldn’t have been more wrong! It seems like every time I quote the number of business supporters, it’s already incorrect as more have joined. As of June 23rd 2020, 251 companies have formally partnered with the Plan and agreed to take action.

All types of businesses are helping. From Derry to Kerry; from small local companies to multinationals; from bakeries to distillers, supermarkets and property developers. They are all playing a role in helping protect pollinators on their land or within their local community.

Some have adopted a pollinator-friendly planting regime, eliminated herbicide use or incorporated a pollinator-friendly grass mowing regime at their place of business. Some have sponsored local groups, such as Tidy Towns, in their efforts to make the local community more pollinator friendly. Other businesses have helped raise awareness by funding a print run of the Junior Pollinator Plan for local primary schools in their vicinity.

A guideline document explaining how businesses can help was published in late 2016, in collaboration with Bord Bía. It identifies 18 evidence-based actions for companies to consider (Download the Business Guidelines) .  In 2017, we established the framework whereby a company can formally sign up as a business supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. In doing so, they agree to carry out at least one pollinator-friendly action within the first year of signing up, and to plan to carry out at least two additional actions within the following five years. They also agree to update us on the positive pollinator actions they have planned, implemented or maintained each year when contacted, to help us promote their work and to facilitate knowledge exchange.

Support of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan offers companies multiple benefits, such as a demonstration of their sustainability credentials and a way of differentiating their business to key customers who require strong sustainability commitments in an increasingly competitive market. It offers a framework to support Corporate Social Responsibility objectives, with the flexibility to choose from a variety of low/no cost actions designed to suit every business type. These can be integrated with Environmental Management Systems, such as ISO 14001:2015. Along with the business benefits that come from supporting the Pollinator Plan, registered companies will receive a certificate of participation, as well as online support in developing plans to take pollinator-friendly actions within the business. Once businesses have taken pollinator-friendly actions, they may also receive recognition for their work by logging their efforts on the publicly available mapping system, ‘Actions for Pollinators’ which is managed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Do some use it to ‘greenwash’? Perhaps, but the vast majority don’t. Do some do it to tick a box? Maybe, but most are genuinely interested in learning that it’s not about adding another honeybee hive to the landscape. It’s about taking simple practical actions to help Ireland’s declining wild pollinator populations and at the same time helping biodiversity generally. The one thing I’ve learned from engaging with our business supporters is that they want to know they are doing the right thing. They are also very willing to use their influence, but they want to do it as effectively as possible. For that, we thank them.

Bees have been around since the time of dinosaurs. We all have a responsibility to ensure we are not the generation that squanders this vital resource. We are calling on all businesses, regardless of their sector or size or land holdings, to get involved and to use their influence to help change things for the better. To see the current list of supporters, or to find out more about becoming a business supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan please visit http://pollinators.ie/businesses/

We thank each of the 251 companies who are already working with us to make changes for the better!

– Dr Úna FitzPatrick, Project Coordinator & Co-founder of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan