The adoption of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan at WIT has been made possible thanks to Estates, the Department of Science, and in particular BSc in Horticulture staff and students
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has announced that it has signed to become a partner to the new All-Ireland Pollinator Plan for 2021-2025.
The plan is an initiative of the Heritage Council and coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Carriganore, Waterford which will continue to provide oversight and management of the implementation. Responsibility for delivering the 186 actions contained in this new Plan is shared out between 64 partner organisations.
Reverse bee declines
One-third of 98 wild bee species are threatened with extinction from the island of Ireland. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan aims to reverse these declines in order to ensure the sustainability of food; avoid additional economic impacts on agriculture; and protect the health of the environment.
This is the second phase of this very successful project, a new five-year roadmap that aims to help bees, other pollinating insects and our wider biodiversity. WIT previously signed up to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020.
The adoption of the plan at WIT has been made possible thanks to Estates, the Department of Science, and in particular BSc in Horticulture staff and students.
- Incorporated pollinator friendly plants into the planting scheme.
- Adopted pollinator friendly management in the Cork Road campus and WIT Arena ie reduced mowing, selective pruning and reduced use of herbicide.
- Allowed a specifically selected biodiverse area return to meadow. This is where the rare bee orchid appeared in June 2020 Ophrys apifera var atrofusca
- Installation of solitary bee nesting aids
WIT Estates Manager Elaine Greenan explains that the publication of the All Ireland Pollinator plan 2021 to 2025 “comes on foot of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021 to support Ireland’s transition to Net Zero and achieve a climate neutral economy by 2050. WIT is delighted that our campuses are live pollinator locations and this plan further demonstrates the importance of sustainability to WIT and its environs.”
Dr Peter McLoughlin, Head of the School of Science and Computing at WIT welcoming the launch of the new All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025 noted that “the problem of declining Irish Pollinators is a serious problem which mirrors the challenges faced by Ireland’s biodiversity.
“The new All-Ireland Pollinator Plan will work to bring about a landscape where pollinators can flourish. Key objectives of the plan include making farmland, public and private land more pollinator friendly. WIT is delighted to be involved in the roll out of the plan as a partner and supports the monitoring of species in a scientific and systematic way. We look forward to supporting the implementation of this important national initiative,” he added
Student horticulturalists dig in
Yvonne Grace, lecturer on WIT’s BSc in Horticulture and course leader on the BSc in Horticulture (Botanic Gardens) says: “We are really excited to build on the work we have already begun on campus using the new plan as a framework for action." She explained how she, and BSc in Horticulture (Kildalton) course leader Dr Cara Daly are committed to sharing the ethos of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan with horticulture students.
According to Grace, the horticulture course leaders have promoted the objectives of the AIPP in their student research projects and on social media. “Check out @Beesbandb on Instagram for scientific snippets around biodiversity and photos of what we and our students past and present see on our travels. Becoming a citizen scientist could not be easier you can even download the National Biodiversity Centre’s ‘Biodiversity Data Capture’ app on your phone and record biodiversity live on your 5km walk.”
WIT actions in association with the student body
- We have liaised with Waterford City & County Council to identify public green areas to promote as reference sites for pollinator management. Case studies of the identified plots are being carried out in 2021 as part of a student project
- Collected wildflower seed on campus and the surrounding community.
- Propagated plants from the collected seed. These will be planted on campus this Spring.
- Shared wildflower seed with WIT’s West Campus
- Incorporated material on identification, monitoring and conservation of pollinators into relevant modules.
- Raised awareness about pollinator friendly plants and insect species with a social media account on Instagram @Beesbandb
- Tested methodologies and identified the most effective way to provide wild bee nesting habitat to suit Irish conditions.
- Identified existing wild pollinator habitat on site and created awareness around preserving those habitats.
National Biodiversity Data Centre
Speaking around the launch of the new plan there were some very clear messages about how ongoing actions can have a huge impact.
“We don’t want this to be a short-term, ‘trendy’ initiative. It is about fully normalising a better way of managing our whole landscape to permanently support our struggling biodiversity,” said Dr Úna FitzPatrick from the National Biodiversity Data Centre, who chairs the Plan steering group and oversees its implementation. “We know that for the Plan to continue to be successful, it needs to be built on trust in the experts running the programme; acknowledgement of all the efforts being made; and clear demonstrations that the actions we are taking together are making a difference and are having a positive impact.”
Prof Jane Stout, Professor in Botany at Trinity College Dublin, who co-chairs the group, added: “Restoration of biodiversity across farmed, natural and urban landscapes is crucial for sustainable livelihoods and humanity’s well-being. Actions to protect pollinators across all these landscapes, as outlined in the Plan, can help restore other elements of biodiversity, and result in multiple benefits for nature and for people. For example, pollinators are important for maintaining plant populations that sequester carbon, and protect against flooding, and some pollinators help control pest populations and recycle waste. And ultimately, pollinators help to ensure the people of Ireland have healthy natural systems to enjoy, promoting our mental and physical health.”