Carmel Dillon, Dunboyne Tidy Towns, a true Pollinator Champion, explains how they have engaged with so many sectors in the town
Many thanks to the staff in the National Biodiversity Data Centre for the wonderful resources of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. The Dunboyne Community has embraced the plan and was thrilled to be awarded a regional award in the Midlands and East category of the Local Authority Pollinator Award 2019.
As with all Tidy Towns associations, our volunteers work full tilt. We wanted to adopt a biodiversity project, but wondered if we had the personnel. In 2018, following some research, we discovered the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. We had little knowledge about the topic, but were prepared to learn. The website and resources (pollinators.ie) clearly illustrated the current danger to our bee population and subsequently to humanity. We knew that if we were to make any impact we would need to engage with our community in a cohesive manner. The strength of the Pollinator Plan for any community is the clarity of the Actions for Pollinators.
Over the last 50 years Dunboyne and District Credit Union has been at the heart of Dunboyne and has financially supported many worthwhile local projects. When we approached them about the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, they provided a grant to launch the project. Our aim was to raise awareness about the plan and to encourage Dunboyne residents to carry out Actions for Pollinators. We started tentatively by planting pollinator-friendly plants in our village and erecting signage to inform residents and visitors about the project.
Dunboyne Senior Primary School displayed 100 actions for pollinators in Dunboyne Library.
We then piloted ‘Dunboyne for Pollinators’ in Dunboyne Senior Primary School. Twenty workshops on the topic were provided to classes by a member of Dunboyne Tidy Towns and the pupils were asked to carry out at least one action for pollinators at home.
This was the basis for a competition funded by Dunboyne Credit Union. During Biodiversity Week in 2018, the pupils displayed 100 actions for pollinators in Dunboyne Library. With the help of Tidy Towns members, they recorded their actions on the Actions for Pollinators database (https://pollinators.biodiversityireland.ie/).
Thanks to the generosity of our Credit Union, the competition has become an annual event and will take place in three schools this year.
Dunboyne and District Credit Union sponsored a pollinator-friendly bed.
A disused phone box was wrapped in All-Ireland Pollinator Plan graphics and became an information hub on pollinators
In our second year we sought to further embed the plan within our community. In 2018, a three-year plan to plant 2,020 spring flowering bulbs and plants in Dunboyne was devised. Bulbs were distributed to school pupils to plant at home and again the actions were recorded on the Actions for Pollinators Database.
In autumn 2019, snowdrop, crocus, hyacinth and allium bulbs were planted by a preschool, four primary schools, a second level school, First Meath Dunboyne Scouts, Rehabcare, Dunboyne and District Credit Union, Dunboyne GAA Club, 12 residents’ associations, a faith community and Dunboyne Tidy Towns. Funding from the Community Environment Action Fund through Meath County Council made this possible.
Dunboyne 2020: This three-year plan to plant 2,020 pollinator-friendly bulbs in Dunboyne included planting by schools, scouts, GAA, faith communities, and local residents.
Bidens and Bacopa are great pollinator-friendly plants to add to hanging baskets and planters.
We work with several businesses to promote pollinator-friendly planting and preservation of bee habitat. These are two examples of very different but equally beneficial actions taken by local businesses.
Our traditional flower displays in tubs and hanging baskets are loved by residents. Last year we integrated bidens and bacopa into our displays. We posted information about these pollinator-friendly plants and Kelly’s Hardware sourced the plants and sold them. We posted information about the availability of the pollinator friendly plants on our Facebook page and they sold well. The convenience of having pollinator friendly plants available locally proved popular and will continue.
A new addition to our village in 2019 was a Supervalu store. While the store was in construction, Tidy Towns met with Stephen Nally of Supervalu and introduced him to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. We asked if Supervalu would consider planting pollinator-friendly plants when landscaping. We were delighted to see such a spectacular display thanks to Ciara Croffy, Project Manager and Stephen Nally. The pollinator-friendly landscaping has encouraged others to embrace the plan. The planting template will be shared with other Supervalu sites throughout the country.
Dunboyne for Pollinators is a thread running through our community. A Tidy Towns visit to Dunboyne Senior Primary School led to the design, construction and decoration of a five-star bee hotel by pupils who subsequently visited First Meath Dunboyne Scouts. Their enthusiasm motivated the scouts to make bee hotels. A member of Dunboyne Tidy Towns was invited to see the new bee hotels
and to hear about the design and construction process. Two hotels are now in the Scouts Den, one is on a green on a housing estate and two were erected in a pollinator-friendly bed in the Supervalu carpark.
By working with local Scouts and schools, Dunboyne Tidy Towns are actively creating awareness of the importance of pollinators.
Dunboyne Tidy Towns also produced a booklet and have lead walks to show important bee habitat, such as flowering hedgerows, and actions such as scraping back soil to create bee nesting habitat.
Learning about our Natural Environment
Parallel to planting year-round pollinator-friendly plants and constructing bee hotels we are conscious of the need to conserve naturally growing pollinator-friendly plants and bee habitats.
We have compiled a booklet showing photos of our native plants and bee habitats. These booklets can be used for schools when on nature walks. The photos were taken in May 2019 and the walks will be piloted with local schools in May 2020.
These follow on successful Autumn nature walks led by Dunboyne Tidy Towns. The pupils got a chance to plant pollinator-friendly plants and bulbs in planters in the village and to see bee habitat. They also learned to scrape back soil to enhance bee habitat for the winter.
Promoting the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan has created an integrated community plan. Links with schools, colleges, community and sporting groups, faith communities and businesses have been developed. A framework for further social and ecological plans has been built.
‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’
This article was published in our newsletter on the 2019 Local Authority Pollinator Award.
To read the full newsletter, Click here
ABOUT THE TIDY TOWNS LOCAL AUTHORITY POLLINATOR AWARD:
This special award in the Tidy Towns competition encourages Tidy Towns groups to implement pollinator-friendly actions in their town or village, and is open to all groups who enter the National Tidy Towns competition. The Local Authority Pollinator Award, now in its fifth year, has generous cash prizes – now totalling €10,000, and applicants have also increased their points in the overall competition through actions taken for pollinators.
Local Authority Heritage Officers and Biodiversity Officers initiated and run the award, in partnership with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan team at the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
There has been an amazing reaction to this special award since its launch in 2016, and reading about all the achievements and actions taken for pollinators in towns and villages across the country is truly inspirational. Indeed, over 160 individual towns and villages, from every county, have entered the Pollinator Award, and not only that but according to TidyTowns adjudicators upwards of 80% of all 918 TidyTowns groups are implementing actions for pollinators. All entries are filled with wonderful projects, each improving and creating much-needed habitats for pollinating insects and biodiversity generally.
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Project Officer position has been funded by SuperValu in 2020.