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NEWSLETTER: SEPTEMBER 2019
1. To do this month: Collect pollinator-friendly wildflower seed to use locally
Now is a good time to collect your own pollinator-friendly wildflower seed to add to your meadow. Knapweed seed is easy to collect and it’s a great plant to have in your meadow as it is extremely rich in nectar. To learn more about collecting your own seed locally see our guide: https://pollinators.ie/
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2. To spot this month: Keep an eye out for leafcutter solitary bees
They are coming to the end of their season, but one of the most interesting solitary bees to spot are the leafcutter solitary bees (Megachile). They cut sections of leaf or petal and bring it back to line the cells in their nest. These are the solitary bees that most often use bee boxes. You’ll know your box is occupied if you see a little circular piece of leaf closing the cavities.
3. Thanks to the amazing efforts of Tidy Towns groups in making their local communities pollinator friendly!
We have been blown away by the quality of the Tidy Towns entries in the 2019 special pollinator award. Good luck to everyone who entered this year – winners will be announced on the 30th September at the Tidy Towns awards ceremony in the Helix. The map shows all those Tidy Towns groups in the RoI who have made their area pollinator-friendly since 2016!
4. Councils continue to sign up as partners of the AIPP
To date, 12 Councils across the island have signed up as partners of the AIPP and agreed to take action. We know that for others the process is in train. If your Council is not yet taking part, it would be very useful if you could encourage them to do so. It is also very helpful to contact Local Authorities and show your support when you see them taking positive actions like reducing mowing or pollinator-friendly planting. Often they only hear from the people who don’t like it! See our current Council partners here: https://pollinators.ie/
5. Helping our most threatened bumblebee
The next in our How-to-guide series is on protecting rare pollinators and identifies actions to help the endangered Great Yellow Bumblebee. Unfortunately, this bumblebee is on the verge of extinction, with the Mullet Peninsula in Mayo now it’s most important remaining location. The guideline document will be officially launched in early October at an event organised by Mayo County Council. You’ll be able to download it from www.pollinators.ie then.
Our forward planning, choosing and planting of the correct pollinator plants this year is really paying dividends. A lovely selection of butterflies have been seen over the summer and bees are very plentiful.
In the last number of weeks we have been advised that about 8 swarms of bees had arrived in Ballincollig and had to be relocated. In all the years we have never heard of this number of swarms.
Well done to everyone who took the time to add to the Pollinator Corridor and/or chose the appropriate plants for their garden. It has made a huge difference.
We work closely with senior members of Ballincollig Scout Group and one of the projects one group did was to build a Bug Hotel. They built it from scratch. The Bug Hotel is designed to provide shelter for insects. and providing nesting facilities particularly during winter.We also welcome the pollinators who have lots of areas to shelter. Thankfully we are nearly at full capacity and the bugs are fascinating to watch..
A second group of scouts wanted to do something different so they got two barrels and painted them and gave us both Male and Female Floral Displays. The two barrels are positioned on either side of the Bug Hotel and the plants attract the bees to the area.
The world’s leading scientists will warn the planet’s life-support systems are approaching a danger zone for humanity when they release the results of the most comprehensive study of life on Earth ever undertaken.
Up to 1m species are at risk of annihilation, many within decades, according to a leaked draft of the global assessment report, which has been compiled over three years by the UN’s leading research body on nature.
The 1,800-page study will show people living today, as well as wildlife and future generations, are at risk unless urgent action is taken to reverse the loss of plants, insects and other creatures on which humanity depends for food, pollination, clean water and a stable climate.
The final wording of the summary for policymakers is being finalised in Paris by a gathering of experts and government representatives before the launch on Monday, but the overall message is already clear, according to Robert Watson, the chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
“There is no question we are losing biodiversity at a truly unsustainable rate that will affect human wellbeing both for current and future generations,” he said. “We are in trouble if we don’t act, but there are a range of actions that can be taken to protect nature and meet human goals for health and development.”
The authors hope the first global assessment of biodiversity in almost 15 years will push the nature crisis into the global spotlight in the same way climate breakdown has surged up the political agenda since the 1.5C reportlast year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Like its predecessor, the report is a compilation of reams of academic studies, in this case on subjects ranging from ocean plankton and subterranean bacteria to honey bees and Amazonian botany. Following previous findings on the decimation of wildlife, the overview of the state of the world’s nature is expected to provide evidence that the world is facing a sixth wave of extinction. Unlike the past five, this one is human-driven.
Mike Barrett, WWF’s executive director of conservation and science, said: “All of our ecosystems are in trouble. This is the most comprehensive report on the state of the environment. It irrefutably confirms that nature is in steep decline.”
Barrett said this posed an environmental emergency for humanity, which is threatened by a triple challenge of climate, nature and food production. “There is no time to despair,” he said. “We should be hopeful that we have a window of opportunity to do something about it over these two years.”
That is when China will host the UN framework convention on biodiversity gathering in Kunming, which will establish new 20-year targets to replace those agreed in Aichi, Japan, in 2010. Soon after, the UN framework convention on climate change will revise Paris agreement commitments at a meeting in either the UK, Italy, Belgium or Turkey.
Watson, a British professor who has headed both of the UN’s leading scientific panels, said the forthcoming report will delve more deeply than anything before into the causes of nature collapse, chief among which is the conversion of forests, wetlands and other wild landscapes into ploughed fields, dam reservoirs and concrete cities. Three-quarters of the world’s land surface has been severely altered, according to the leaked draft. Humanity is also decimating the living systems on which we depend by emitting carbon dioxide and spreading invasive species.
Watson said the authors have learned from attribution science, which has transformed the debate on the climate crisis by showing how much more likely hurricanes, droughts and floods have become as a result of global heating.
The goal is to persuade an audience beyond the usual green NGOs and government departments. “We need to appeal not just to environment ministers, but to those in charge of agriculture, transport and energy because they are the ones responsible for the drivers of biodiversity loss,” he said.
A focus will be to move away from protection of individual species and areas, and to look at systemic drivers of change, including consumption and trade.
The political environment is changing in some countries due to overwhelming scientific evidence and increasing public concern about the twin crises of nature and climate, which have prompted more than 1 million students to strike from school and led to street protests by Extinction Rebellion activists in more than a dozen countries.
The UK parliament declared a climate emergency this week and the government’s chief climate advisory body recommended an accelerated plan to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2050. Until now, however, the nature crisis has been treated as far less of a priority. “Where are the headlines? Where are the emergency meetings?” asked the school strike founder, Greta Thunberg, in a recent tweet on the subject.
Extinction Rebellion activists said protests that blocked several London streets last month were as much aimed at the defence of nature as stabilising the climate. “They are two sides of the same destructive coin,” said Farhana Yamin, a coordinator of the movement who is also an environmental lawyer and formerly a lead author of the IPCC report.
“The work of IPBES is as crucial as the work done by the IPCC on the 1.5-degree report. That is why Extinction Rebellion is demanding an end [to] biodiversity loss and a net-zero phaseout by 2025. We can’t save humanity by only tackling climate change or only caring about biodiversity.”
How can Local Communities help Pollinators?
Local communities can lead the way in creating an Ireland where pollinators can thrive. To find out how to make your community pollinator friendly, download our publication: Local Communities: actions to help pollinators
Suitable for: TIDY TOWNS, Keep Northern Ireland beautiful, local wildlife groups, historic graveyard groups, college campuses, etc.
Features of our Local Community Guidelines:
- Range of 24 low/no-cost pollinator-friendly actions provided to suit all local communities
- Pollinator-friendly planting lists
- Important advice for purchasing wildflower seed mixes for pollinators
- Information about our pollinators, why they are declining and what they need to survive
Have you taken any pollinator friendly actions in your local community? If so, log them on our online mapping system, Actions for Pollinators, to help track the build-up of food and shelter in our landscape.
Instructions on how to use this mapping system: Tutorial on Actions for Pollinators: Community groups
How Councils can support the Pollinator Plan
Councils can play a leading role in making the island of Ireland a place where pollinators can survive and thrive. To help, we’ve produced these guidelines: Councils: actions to help pollinators
We understand that each Council is different, so there are a range of 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.
Suitable for: ROI: County and City Council staff. NI: Borough, District and City Councils.
TidyTowns Pollinator Award
The Local Authority TidyTowns Pollinator Award
In 2016, when the Local Authority Heritage Officer and Biodiversity Officer Network offered to establish and fund the special Pollinator Award in the national Tidy Towns competition, the team behind the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan were delighted to support this new way to create awareness of pollinators and increase pollinator-friendly habitats right across the country.
There has been an amazing reaction to this special award and reading about all the achievements and actions taken for pollinators in towns and villages across the country is truly inspirational.
A total of 140 towns and villages have entered the Pollinator Award competition since 2016, comprising wonderful projects, each improving and creating much-needed habitats for biodiversity and pollinating insects.
Since then, the entries have improved year on year. We would like to thank you sincerely for all you are doing locally to help create a more pollinator-friendly Ireland, and wish you every success in 2019!
– the Pollinator Plan team
To learn more about some of the wonderful work being carried out by TidyTowns groups around the country, please see our newsletter from the 2018 competition: TidyTowns Local Authority Pollinator Award 2018 newsletter
To learn about entries and winners in the past three years of the award, please click on the appropriate tab to the left of this page: 2016, 2017, 2018.
Download our top 10 tips on how to improve your entry for the Pollinator award: Tips on entering Tidy Towns Pollinator Award
Local Authority Pollinator Award Prize Fund: €9000
Overall Winner €1000
Regional Winner Small Town/Village: 4 winners receive €1000 each.
Regional Winner Large Town/Urban centre: 4 winners receive €1000 each.
France Becomes The First Country To Ban All Five Pesticides Linked To Bee Deaths
In May 2018 the EU banned three of the significant pesticides implicated in the collapse of bee populations. Clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam are now prohibited for use on crops.
However France has gone a step further and set the high bar in the effort to save the bees. Given the importance of pollinators to nature and the survival of the biosphere, this could not happen too soon!
Studies have reported that the neonicotinoid pesticides attack the central nervous system of insects, leading to loss of memory and homing skills, in addition to reduced fertility. Bees that cannot find their way back to the hive quickly die. However the pesticides have also been shown to affect butterflies, birds and other pollinating insects.
There is a reason why France is ahead of the field in this regard: The “bee killing” pesticides were tested first on French fields in the 1990’s – and the French farmers witnessed first-hand the catastrophic effects that occurred in 1994; describing “a carpet of dead bees”. 400,000 bee colonies died within days – yet the story was buried under a layer of corruption and distorted science.
Since that time, activists and manufacturers have battled to control the situation. We covered this story in full in a previous post: Overwhelming Evidence Linking Neonicotinoid Insecticides To Massive Die-off Of Bees And Songbirds
The new move is certain to be celebrated by ecologists and sets an example of protection of nature that the rest of the world needs to follow.