The Pollinator Plan is an integral part of WIT's overall Environment Policy and strategy and plays a part in WIT reducing its impact on the environment
Ahead of World Bee Day on 20 May, 2020 Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has announced that it has signed to become a partner in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020. This initiative of the Heritage Council is coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Carriganore, Waterford.
The pollinator objectives set out have now been adopted into the institute's document Environmental Policy at WIT 2019-2021. Estates manager Elaine Greenan said: "The WIT Estates office is delighted to have a Pollinator Plan in place. This plan is an integral part of our overall Environment Policy and strategy and plays a part in WIT reducing our impact on the environment."
One of the key objectives was to identify and protect existing habitats on campus and create awareness amongst the student cohort. New signage was erected on campus to create awareness amongst the student body and the public who use our facilities. All groundsmen on the campus have agreed to limiting the use of herbicides and a reduced mowing regime, sowing wild flower areas, identifying and protecting existing habitat for pollinators and providing and protecting nesting habitats for solitary bees and insects.
WIT Arena (Novus) also made the decision to designate significant areas for landscaping, plant species will be chosen with pollinator friendly trees, shrubs and perennials in mind. Wildflower areas will be created where suitable. Over 1,000 native trees were planted in January to enhance the running track in Carriganore. Further planting around the WIT Arena building was also planned.
An additional 200 sq metres of lawn inside the Borwne's Road entrance of the main campus at WIT has been designated to allow revert back to long meadow grassland. "This will allow students and the public to see greater diversity of plant and insect species. Horticulture students will put up insect hotels here too," says Horticulture lecturer Yvonne Grace.
She explains that the public can also get involved in a survey run by the NBDC and other college partners between April and September called Flower Insect Timed count (FIT). "We all have more time on ours hands at the moment all we need is a 50x50 cm patch of flowers observe it for 10 mins and record how many insects visit. See https://pollinators.ie/record-pollinators/fit-count/ to participate."
What students are doing
Third year horticulture students have chosen a group project to evaluate insect hotels along the Greenway. They have liaised with Dr Úna Fitzpatrick of the NBDC aiming to create improved guidelines on design and placement criteria which will be shared with other All Ireland Pollinator Plan partners.
Sean's 2km radius
Sean Keane, a third year student on WIT's BSc in Horticulture has been keeping an eye on the impact of the Pollinator plan as it has been within his 2km radius during the Covid-19 restrictions. "Bumblebees have been feeding for many weeks now on the abundant Berberis plants of various species. While the honeybees are particularly interested in the Lonicera pileata or box leafed honeysuckle," he says.
Sean continues: "In recent years the college has introduced areas of reduced mowing to allow wildflowers bloom and provide food for our wild bees and other pollinators. This spring saw the introduction of the largest reduced mowing area to date, which is located close to the Browne’s Road entrance of the cork road campus. The wildflowers here are particularly abundant with species such as birdsfoot trefoil, lesser knapweed, red clover, white clover, self-heal, and cats ear dandelion."
"It is fair to say that pollinator plan has got off to a great start," Sean can confirm.