If you’ve been following the blog recently, you probably know that Ireland’s pollinators are in decline. Of the 98 bee species on the island of Ireland, nearly one-third are threatened with extinction. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 is a strategy that addresses this problem. It is a shared plan of action, supported by 68 governmental and non-governmental organisations. We are working with all sectors, from local communities to Councils, farmers, businesses schools and more, to take actions that will make Ireland more pollinator-friendly.
Third level institutions have a big role to play in implementing the Pollinator Plan. Below are five actions campuses could take to help. These suggestions come from the Pollinator Plan’s Local Community Guidelines. This guide actually suggests 24 pollinator-friendly actions, so every campus across the island is sure to find suggestions that suit their space. Download it and encourage your college to get involved.
- Protect existing sources of food and shelter for pollinators: Does your campus have areas with bramble or ivy? What about existing pollinator-friendly flowering trees? The best and easiest thing you can do is to protect what resources you already have. At TCD: A map of existing pollinator resources on Trinity’s campus was produced as part of the Campus Pollinator Plan. This resource will help ensure existing pollinator habitats are protected.
- Reduce mowing and aim to create a wildflower meadow: When grassy areas are cut less often, wildflowers have a chance to bloom and provide food for bees. Areas of longer grass are also ideal nesting habitats. The idea with this action is to cut some grassy areas just once in autumn, to allow the grass to grow long. The grass cutting should be removed after each cut to reduce soil fertility over time. At TCD: The grass on the Ecology Bank is allowed to grow to provide more flowers for bees.
- Perennial flowers for pollinators: When choosing ornamental species, remember that traditional bedding plants like Geraniums, Begonias, Petunias and Busy Lizzy have virtually no pollen and nectar, so are of little value to pollinators. Incorporating pollinator-friendly perennials that will flower all season long, from March through to October, is an excellent way to increase the food on campus for pollinators. At TCD: The new garden outside Botany has several pollinator-friendly plants, and the Campus Pollinator Plan aims to increase spring flowering species to further enhance the space for pollinators.
- Put up signage: This action both raises awareness of pollinators with the public and helps inform why some areas are being managed differently. At TCD: Signage has been added on the Ecology Bank and at newly installed solitary bee nest boxes.
- Log the actions taken on your campus on our mapping system, Actions for Pollinators: This new, publically available website tracks the build-up of food, shelter, and safety for pollinators in the landscape. It is hoped that all campuses that take actions for pollinators will log what they are doing so we can document all the efforts to conserve our pollinating insects.
If your third level institution wants to sign up to support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, get in touch! We’re always happy to welcome new partners. If every campus on the island of Ireland took just a few simple pollinator-friendly measures, it would go a long way towards creating a landscape where pollinators can survive and thrive.
Dr Erin Jo Tiedeken (@EJTiedeken) joined the National Biodiversity Data Centre (@BioDataCentre) in April 2016 as the Project Officer for the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. She previously completed her PhD on Irish pollinators with Dr Jane Stout (@JaneCStout) at Trinity College Dublin.