Tullahought Tidy Towns group celebrating after their award
The Kilkenny community of Tullahought has won a Pollinator Award at the TidyTowns awards on Monday September 24th, at the Helix in Dublin, recognising all that has been done by the town to help pollinating insects.
One third of our 99 bee species are threatened with extinction from Ireland. This is because we have drastically reduced the amount of food (wildflowers) and safe nesting sites in our landscapes. The All Ireland Pollinator Plan was launched in 2015 as a shared plan of action to try to reverse these declines and work with communities, businesses, parks, schools and farms to make an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive.
The Local Authority Pollinator Award aims to encourage TidyTowns groups to implement pollinator-friendly actions in their towns and villages as part of the TidyTowns competition. It supports the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and is co-ordinated and sponsored by the Heritage Offices and Biodiversity Offices of Local Authorities across Ireland, in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre. There were 66 entries, from 22 counties, for the Pollinator Award this year and the standard of entries was extremely high.
To take home this award, Tullahought took a whole range of pollinator-friendly actions. The TidyTowns Group adopted a whole-village approach, mapping the village and pinpointing areas that could provide food and shelter for pollinating insects. They undertook an audit of the village and identified all the features that are good for pollinators, and Ecologist Deborah D’Arcy produced the ‘Tullahought Biodiversity Action Plan’ a 30-page report and action plan for the village.
Tullahought delayed grass-cutting to allow pollen-rich dandelions to flower in the village amenity grassland, and planted additional pollinator-friendly planting in beds and containers.
They also implemented a pollinator-friendly mowing regime along the roadside verges, only cutting a strip along the road where necessary and the remaining areas of grass verges are allowed to grow long to allow wildlflowers to grow as food for pollinators.
Tullahought TidyTowns planted fruit trees in the community centre garden, including raspberry, blackcurrant and gooseberry – good news for the local community as well as pollinating insects.
Bees are our most important pollinators because they rely completely on pollen to feed to their babies. This means they are focused soley on colecting pollen and thereby move pollen from one flower to another. As our landscapes have become more intensively managed and our roadside verges and parks, gardens more manicured, we have reduced the amount of pollen-rich wildflowers our pollinators have access to. The Pollinator Award rewards communities who are allowing space for nature, allowing wildflowers to grow, reducing pesticide use and providing safe areas for pollinators to nest.
Juanita Browne, Project Officer with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan said of the winners: “We’re so grateful to all 66 towns and villages who have done so much to help their local pollinating insects. We hope this will continue into the future. With so much of our landscapes being intensively managed and one third of our bee species at risk of extinction, these 66 sites act as much-needed safe refuges for bees across the country.”
Seven other Pollinator Awards of €1,000 were also presented to Clonmel, Ennis, Sneem, Buncrana, Killeshandra, Swords and Geashill.
To find out how you can take actions to help pollinators or to enter the 2019 Pollinator Award, please see www.pollinators.ie