Local Authorities get buzzing for pollinators

Save the bees.

Tidy Towns groups in Co. Kilkenny are urged to enter a special award in the National Tidy Towns competition which promotes the protection of pollinators.

Irish bees and other pollinators contribute €35Million a year to the Irish economy by pollinating our plants, trees and vegetables. They are under serious threat for survival because they don’t have enough food to eat or places to live. In response to this, in 2016 Local Authority Heritage Officers and Biodiversity Officers, in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, launched a new Tidy Towns “Let’s Get Buzzing- Local Authority Pollinator Award”. This Special Award encourages Tidy Towns groups to support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan by making their communities more pollinator-friendly. There is an attractive prize fund of €9,000.

Simon Walton, Director of Services, Kilkenny County Council says “The award is great example of Local Authorities working together strategically. Our farming and horticultural sectors, vital to our local economy, are dependent on pollinators, so initiatives like this are important”.

There was a great response to the award in 2016 with 58 Tidy Towns groups taking part. Monaghan Tidy Towns, national winner (large town category), turned their town into an urban orchard, by encouraging residents to plant pollinator friendly fruit trees.

Birr Tidy Towns, national winner (small town category), encouraged native wildflowers throughout the town, used beautiful handmade signage to highlight areas important for pollinators, and protected areas where ground nesting bees make their homes.

“Most pollinator actions are not costly or too complicated” explains Dearbhala Ledwidge, Kilkenny County Council Heritage Officer. “They can range from simply changing the grass mowing regime, to planting pollinator friendly trees and shrubs, or raising awareness by promoting the Junior All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to youth groups and schools”.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre has produced practical guidelines to help communities and Tidy Towns groups to take action. “Local communities can lead the way in creating an Ireland where pollinators can thrive” according to Dr. Erin Jo Tiedeken, Pollinator Plan Officer, National Biodiversity Data Centre. The guidelines and other useful resources can be downloaded at (http://www. biodiversityireland .ie/ projects/irish-pollinator- initiative/all- ireland - pollinator-plan/local- communities/).

The closing date for the award is 25th May. Details and application forms are available at newsItem.php?id=1101 or contact Dearbhala Ledwidge, Kilkenny County Council Heritage Officer. 4

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