Pardon the weeds — we are feeding the bees, says Kilkenny council

Helping pollinators: A number of areas identified where frequency of mowing will be reduced, including one side of ring road

KILKENNY

Ned Hennessy, parks department, KCC; Mayor John Coonan; Claire Goodwin, executive landscape architect, KCC; Frank Stafford, senior engineer, KCC; Cathaoirleach Andrew McGuinness, Martin Gaffney

If you noticed a few green areas around Kilkenny where the grass is a little longer and the dandelions a little more plentiful than usual this time of year, it’s for a very good reason.

The council’s parks department are aiming to reduce the frequency of mowing in areas under their remit in support of important pollinators. Reduced mowing allows wild flowers already in the grass to bloom and provide a valuable food source for pollinators.

Inadequate food supply is a major cause of pollinator declines. Land management practices mean that the landscape often doesn’t provide the abundance and diversity of habitats and food sources they need to survive.

In April and early May especially, flowers such as dandelions and clovers in lawns and road verges, and willow, blackthorn and hazel in hedgerows are important.

These plants provide essential early season forage for hungry bees emerging from hibernation. Some of the last remnants of old meadows are at the base of hedgerows and verges.  Reducing mowing allows pollen-rich wildflowers to naturally grow.

With this in mind, the Kilkenny County Council has identified a number of areas where it will reduce mowing to encourage the growth of wildflowers and hedges. The Ring Road in Kilkenny will now be mown on the city side only, with the verges of the county side of the Ring Road allowed to grow long.

The new Ferrybank Park will be managed with pollinator friendly practices also, as will two large meadows in Dukesmeadows and Bishopsmeadows in Kilkenny. At all sites an annual cut will be carried out in late summer/early autumn.

The council is actively assessing other sites where it can alter current grass cutting practices and this will be done in consultation with local residents alongside an awareness campaign to explain why mowing is being delayed. Cathaoirleach of

Kilkenny County Council Andrew McGuinness is among those supporting the initiative.

“I would encourage everybody across the county to get on board adding this is about all of us, local authorities, farmers, schools, community groups and businesses coming together to try to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive,” he said.

Increasingly the council has found many residents’ groups across the county are enquiring as to alternative ways to manage their grass to support pollinators, and the council is happy to provide assistance in this regard.

Mayor of Kilkenny John Coonan has also expressed his support for the initiative and says it’s widely acknowledged that pollinators are under serious threat.

“I feel there is a mood change nationally as to how our green spaces should be managed and it’s great to see Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, Tidy Towns groups and other residents’ associations at the forefront of this mind shift,” said the mayor.

Chairman of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful Pat Boyd, has expressed his delight at the council’s proactive stance on implementing practical measures to assist pollinators.

“Keep Kilkenny Beautiful is committed to the objectives of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and it’s wonderful to see the parks department changing their mowing regime in certain areas of the city to encourage more native wild flowers,” said Mr Boyd.

Kilkenny County Council is a supporter of the recently launched All-Ireland Pollinator Plan for 2021 to 2025, a new five-year road map that aims to help bees, other pollinating insects and our wider biodiversity.

Kilkenny County Council says it is looking forward to continue working in partnership with communities and Tidy Towns Groups to encourage and support a better way of managing our whole landscape to permanently support our struggling biodiversity.

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