Saturday 20 January 2018

Keeping gardens tidy may be putting bee population in danger of extinction

Red-tailed bumblebee and Common carder bee. Photo: John Breen
Red-tailed bumblebee and Common carder bee. Photo: John Breen
Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

Keeping our gardens neat and tidy may be leading to a decline in our bee population, according to experts.

One-third of our 98 bee species are currently threatened with extinction and Ireland has become one of the first European countries to launch a strategy to combat pollinator decline.

The 'All-Ireland Pollinator Plan' was launched yesterday, with 68 organisations joining together to save the humble bee.

The strategy is "about raising awareness on pollinators" and has identified 81 actions which can be taken to protect the bees, as well as the farmers who "rely on their invaluable pollination service".

"Bees are declining because we've drastically reduced the areas where they can nest and the amount of food our landscape provides for them," Dr Una Fitzpatrick, from the National Biodiversity Data Centre, said.

The group also said that our "tendency to tidy up the landscape rather than allowing wildflowers to grow along roadsides, field margins and in parks and gardens is also playing a big part in fewer of these resources being available."

Dr Jane Stout, Associate Professor in Botany at Trinity College Dublin, co-chaired the steering group.

She said that we must "manage the landscape in a more sustainable way and create a joined-up network of diverse and flower-rich habitats" if we want pollinators to be "available for future generations".

"This doesn't just mean in the countryside, but in our towns and villages as well," Dr Stout added.

In order to make Ireland a "better place for pollinators" by 2020, the group is being encouraged to create "pollinator highways along our transport routes".

And the public are being encouraged to "see their gardens as potential pitstops for our busy bees", according to the 'All-Ireland Pollinator Plan', while our parks should be "pollinator friendly".

Irish Independent

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