THE FAQs ANSWERED

  • What is the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP)?
    • What is the background to the AIPP?

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP) emanates from: The EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy which cites the ‘plight of the pollinator’ specifically. This has in turn been integrated into Ireland’s 3rd National Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021 (Objective 4) and indicated in Northern Ireland’s – Biodiversity Plan to 2020 (Page 20, No.30). The Irish Government declared a Biodiversity Emergency in 2019.

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025, managed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre – a Heritage Council programme – actively addresses this time-critical biodiversity challenge. It is a shared plan of action for the island now in its seventh year, which builds on the targets to halt and reverse pollinator decline by 2030.

    • Is the AIPP aiming to protect the island’s natural capital and mitigate climate change?

The AIPP remains, and will always be, a biodiversity plan of action for the island without political affiliation or agenda other than to; preserve and protect the natural capital for generations to come; shape guidance based on evidence; and, mitigate, where possible, the effect of climate change.

    • Who’s who at the Plan?

Review who’s who: Businesses, Partners (report on186 actions), Supporters, Steering Group and the AIPP Team.

    • How is the AIPP set up in terms of governance and accountability?

A 16-member steering group provides oversight of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025. 

All of the simple pollinator-biodiversity actions delivered by business are tracked nationally on the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s ‘Actions for Pollinators’ secure data mapping portal. This accumulated data, supports the evidence-based actions provided under the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025. To date circa 327 (December 2021) businesses are implementing actions within the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan across the island with the support of over 100 government (Central and Local) and NGO partner organisations, as well as thousands of communities and farmers.

The AIPP is aligned with Bia’s Origin Green food sustainability programme as pollinator actions supporting members’ biodiversity targets. Origin Green funds the Agri-business officer position.

  • Why should my business sign up to the AIPP?
    • Why protect wild bees and other pollinators?

On this island one third of the 99 wild bee species are threatened with extinction (Source: Irish Bee Red List 2006, National Parks and Wildlife Service). They are starving and have nowhere to live as a consequence of how we manage the landscape.

N.B. 71 of the 100 crops providing 90% of the world’s food supply are animal pollinated according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

    • Why is the AIPP considered an entry-level into biodiversity?

Biodiversity is a complex subject but by supporting and protecting wild bees and other pollinators we protect wider biodiversity.

The AIPP:

      • Is simple structure for multi-site corporates, SMEs and micro-enterprises.
      • Can be included as an entry-level Biodiversity Pillar within a Sustainability Strategy/Plan.
      • Provides a baseline focal point for SMART targets.
      • Provides guidance to make wise pollinator-biodiversity choices moving forwards. e.g. Don’t strip-out a species-rich meadow and replace with an orchard. If you’re not sure seek expert ecological advice.

Yes. The AIPP is aligned to both and can be integrated into any Environmental Management System, ESG or CSR.

    • Evidence Bases – why are we suggesting these actions?

Actions suggested by the AIPP are evidence-based. This means that scientific studies have shown that they will have a positive impact on biodiversity. The AIPP is also supported by the Irish Pollinator Research Network. We are grateful to this community of academic researchers who continually help improve our knowledge and underpin the advice we provide. Check out Conservation Evidence OR Google Scholar.

    • What does science tell us about pollinators in terms of behaviours/needs?
      • A bee with a full tummy is only 40 minutes from starvation.
      • A queen bee in early spring needs thousands of flowers per day, and, needs lots of food (e.g. Ivy) pre-hibernation in autumn.
      • Different bees have different sizes of tongues, therefore need different sizes of flowers – Darwinism.
      • Bumblebees live in long grass and at the base of hedgerows, solitary mining bees live in bare soil and cavity nesting bees live in stone walls or existing holes in wood.
      • Pollinator studies show: Bumblebees generally forage within 1km of their nest, but often much less. Solitary bees forage within 300m of their nest. An increase in 150m between nesting site and food (flowers) can reduce the number of viable offspring by more than 70%.
  • How can my business sign up to the AIPP and is there a cost?
    • How do I sign up?

Sign the Framework (signature of a senior manager), map your first site on ‘Actions for Pollinators’ – data mapping portal, and send the signed framework plus your logo to [email protected]

    • How much does it cost?

There is no cost to sign up and all resources are free to use including the downloadable, print-ready signage.

    • Do I have to sign up to ‘Actions for Pollinators’ – data mapping portal?

Yes. This is an ongoing requirement when you commit to support the AIPP.

      • The accumulated data on ‘Actions for Pollinators’ data mapping portal, shapes the AIPP evidence-based guidelines.
      • The actions data capture runs from 1 January – 31 December in any given year. So it is important to input your actions promptly to reflect your actions within that specific year.
      • Please ensure a second member of staff retains your Username/Password details when you have registered. Once registered an email cannot be amended. For multi-site businesses why not set up a specific email account such as [email protected] to consolidate and manage this biodiversity information.
      • Please list your business name against each site e.g. NBDC – Meadow 1, or NBDC – Native hedgerow 1.
      • To retain a record of your own pollinator actions, you can download an Excel (.csv) file from the ‘Manage my sites’ section of ‘Actions for Pollinators’. 
    • Is reporting to AIPP a mandatory requirement?

Yes. Once a year (by 30 September) we invite businesses to report on actions/ SMART targets to support pollinators – maximum 250 words. We also require confirmation of actions delivered on ‘Actions for Pollinators’ – the data mapping portal.

  • Is AIPP aligned to Bord Bia’s Origin Green Programme?

Yes. Bord Bia’s Origin Green Programme includes the AIPP and ‘Pollinator Actions’ as part of member companies’ biodiversity targets.

  • We need expert/ecological advice to find out what is on our site – who would you recommend?

The AIPP cannot recommend a service or product. For expert ecological advice visit: The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management 

  • How many pollinator-friendly actions should our business work on per year?

One in the first year. Two (minimum) in each subsequent years. You’ll probably find you are already delivering multiple actions on your site(s).

  • What are the top ten actions our business can take to protect pollinators?

N.B. If you don’t have land/outdoor space to take Physical Actions go straight to the Communication Actions as there are lots of other opportunities to like/share/care.

PHYSICAL ACTIONS:

1. Find out and protect what’s good for pollinators on your site(s) – a baseline.

2. Reduce mowing of grass, cutting of hedgerows, and use of pesticides.

3. Increase planting: retain/enhance native hedgerows, bulbs, shrubs, short/long flowering meadows, heritage fruit trees.

4. Create ‘homes’ for wild bees (earth banks/old stone walls).

COMMUNICATION ACTIONS:

5. Include AIPP as a ‘Biodiversity Pillar’ in your Sustainability Strategy/Plan with a baseline and SMART targets.

6. Champion biodiversity in your geographic area(s) – create a Biodiversity Committee and/or nominate a Biodiversity Champion on your site(s). You might even ‘Pledge Your Hotel Garden’ for pollinators.

7. Pollinator/Biodiversity Signage and activity on site /online / on socials. 

8. Invite Employees to ‘Pledge Your Garden‘ (pots/planters) to celebrate World Bee Day on 20 May.

9. Encourage Suppliers to sign up/take actions.

10. Engage with your Community create a Biodiversity Plan/Ecological~Pollinator Trail/Corridor, sponsor a Pollinator Map/Pollinator roundabout, develop with partners a Dispersed Urban Orchard (DUO), engage with Tidy Towns, your local sports club, GAA club, golf course, faith community, school(s).

    • What does the AIPP recommend as a first action to help wild bees?

Number 1 is Identify and protect existing areas that are good for pollinators. Your business’s outdoor space may already have areas (e.g. species rich grassland) that are providing excellent food and shelter for wild bees. Then ask ‘Who has the keys to the lawnmower?’.

NOT mowing grass and NOT cutting hedges as frequently (not forgetting elimination of pesticides where possible) is the best and cheapest way to provide food and shelter for wild bees. So a short or long flowering meadow is a great start! Think #Don’t Mow; Let it Grow. Great food sources for our wild bees are Dandelions, Buttercups, Daisies, Clovers etc. Top Tips for creating a wildflower meadow.

  • Would you recommend adding honeybee hives to our site(s)?

Honeybees are NOT under threat and as a managed pollinator are NOT considered a biodiversity action as part of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Increased numbers of honeybees may create competition for food for wild bees. If you are considering honeybee hives please refer to the relevant beekeeping associations for advice. READ MORE

  • Is purchased wildflower seed a good choice?

Purchased, non-native, (brightly coloured) wildflower seed is NOT considered helpful to the island’s landscape and may contain invasive species such as black grass. The AIPP recommends, where possible, natural regeneration of wildflowers through a change in management – reduced mowing and removal of cuttings to reduce soil fertility will allow wildflowers to flourish. However, if you decide to purchase, CHECK it is native seed to the island.

N.B. Use of non-native wildflower seed is a horticultural action rather than a biodiversity action and should never be planted outside private property.

    • Don’t have a native wildflower meadow? HERE’s why you should by Dr Maria Long Maria, Grassland Ecologist at National Parks and Wildlife Service.
    • Thinking of sowing a wildflower meadow? READ the science behind why a naturally regenerated biodiversity meadow created by reduced mowing is much the preferred option.
    • Top Tips: generating a short-flowering meadow (Dandelion, Clover, Daisy, Buttercup) is a simple as cut every 6 weeks from mid-April. For a long-flowering meadow (either strip patches or larger areas) cut annually in September, letting the cuttings lie for a few days to allow any seed to drop and then remove. In large areas it is helpful to leave some small sections entirely uncut each year for other overwintering insects to nest. N.B. For advice on winter grass growth/cutting please email [email protected]
  • We have a native wildflower meadow on our site – should we keep it?

Yes. What an amazing biodiversity highlight. Leave it as is (i.e. don’t go planting an orchard!) – it is just perfect. N.B. If you have an established meadow maybe introduce yellow rattle to keep down grasses and encourage other wildflowers.

  • Would you recommend wildflower seed packets/bee bombs as a corporate gift?

Non-native wildflower seed packets and bee bombs may contain invasive species. If you are considering wild flower seed packets/bee bombs as a corporate gift for employees/community partners please think instead about: pollinator-friendly bulbs or a native plant species. Local provenance is best for our wildlife and is especially important at a time when our native trees and plants are under attack from imported pests and diseases.

  • Is the hedgerow important on our site(s)?

Yes. Managing native species hedgerows for biodiversity is an incredibly important action for all businesses including agri-business farmer/suppliers. Native hedgerows are a vital source of food (pollen and nectar), nesting habitat and are used as a ‘flight path’ by wild bees and other wildlife to protect from wind, rain and predators.

The rule of thumb for hedgerows is RETAIN | MAINTAIN | RESTORE | CREATE.

Think 75/25: The ideal native hedge is made up of 75% Whitethorn and 25% of at least 4 other species. Choosing 4 of the planting options below, based on blossoming times, is perfect to provide food/shelter for wild bees and other pollinators from early spring to mid-summer. Blossoming Period | Willow – March-April | Blackthorn – March-April | Wild Cherry – April-May | Crab Apple – April-May | Rowan – April-May | Whitebeam – May-June | Spindle – May-June | Whitethorn/Hawthorn – May-June | Guelder Rose – May-July | Elder – June.

    • How should we manage our hedgerow(s)?

A pollinator friendly hedgerow should be:

      • Flowering at least 2.5m in height.
      • Trimmed in an ‘A’ shape.
      • Cut on a minimum 3-year cycle. N.B. cutting annually prevents flowering and fruiting, therefore no food for wild bees.
      • Cut (ideally) between November and January; and if it must be cut in other months (e.g. Health & Safety), cut sections in rotation so some areas remain undisturbed. N.B. bramble and ivy within hedgerows are great food sources for wild bees in summer and autumn.
  • Are (pocket) orchards helpful for wild bees?

Yes. Orchards, including pocket orchards (5 trees or less), are a great action! Choose a site that is has a low biodiversity value, e.g. amenity grassland. Where possible, choose Heritage fruit trees. N.B. Check out the Dispersed Urban Orchard (DUO).

OR if you are thinking of planting options found in a forest, check out native trees to the island.

  • Would you recommend installing a Green Roof?

Only the strongest of the 99 wild bee species will fly higher than the second floor so installing a wild bee garden as part of a ‘green roof’ may prove costly. It may work for invertebrates and as an open urban staff retreat space at break/lunchtime. A green roof can also be an important component of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS). However always consider cost/benefit when considering a green roof on your building. READ MORE HERE.

  • How can we make our carpark more pollinator friendly?

Carparks as an ‘entry point’ for customers and suppliers require a particular Health and Safety focus so the free downloadable print-ready signage is a must. For raised beds/planters requiring low-growing plants options might include:

      • Bulbs: Crocus, Snowdrop and Grape hyacinth for early spring.
      • Perennials: (yellows and yellow/white) Rudbeckia, and/or (purples/pinks) Wallflower, Clamint Comfrey, Catmint, Lavender or entire beds of Heather.
      • Low-growing shrubs: In less trafficked perimeter corner areas options include: Rosemary and Broom.
      • One-species bulk planting: which pollinators love (they can see swathes of colour) include: Lavender, Catmint or Heather. For areas along fences include the likes of: Dwarf Fruit trees, Comfrey and Lavenders and again bulbs including Grape hyacinth, Crocus, Snowdrop. A little trickier but planting which will flower later in summer might include Allium or Dahlias. N.B. Daffodils, Tulips, Busy Lizzies have virtually no pollen value for wild bees. If you are planting these options then also add pollinator-friendly planting too.
      • For areas of grass (strips/patches/large swathes), reduce mowing to every 6 weeks (first cut mid April) to create a short flowering area (Dandelions, Clovers, Daisy and Buttercup) which is great for wild bees.
  • How can we encourage employees and suppliers to engage with the AIPP?

Review options with which your business may engage:

      • Nominate a Biodiversity Champion for your site(s) and/or create a Biodiversity Committee to co-ordinate efforts across Employees, Suppliers and Community.
      • Develop ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions (as part of your ESG/CSR) on pollinators-biodiversity and/or a ‘Bring Your Wellies to Work’ initiative (community volunteering days).
      • Host an annual ‘Wild Bee Garden’ competition for employees launched on 14 February.
      • Celebrate annually: World Bee Day (20 May) International Day for Biodiversity (22 May), National Biodiversity Week (May), Pollinator Week (June).
      • Develop an AIPP project with Green Schools IrelandEco Schools Northern Ireland.
    • What can our employees do as individuals?
    • Should our suppliers sign up too?

Yes. Leveraging suppliers to deliver pollinator-biodiversity actions via AIPP is a great action and can create the ‘multiplier’ effect. You might also invite them to join a Community planting project to which you have committed.

  • Where can we find the AIPP on social media?

Twitter: @PollinatorPlan Instagram: @allirelandpollinatorplan

There is also pollinator and wider biodiversity information via LinkedIn: National Biodiversity Data Centre Facebook: @BioDataCentre

N.B. As an AIPP business supporter you will also have received the AIPP logo and your Certificate to be used online, on socials and on site.

  • How can we engage with our local community through the AIPP? 

Check out Tidy Towns and Community Gardens Ireland, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful or Ulster in Bloom and Business in the Community

The social innovation platform ChangeX draws together excellent social innovations (e.g. AIPP), funding partners (e.g. large corporates seeking to fund community investment projects), and community/volunteer groups seeking initiatives such as the AIPP to develop in their communities.

  • As an Agri-business what are the top five things our farmer/suppliers can do to support pollinators-biodiversity?

Agricultural land represents circa 65% of our island’s landscape. The AIPP Farmland Guidelines provide five evidence-based actions to make farmland more pollinator-friendly:

1. Hedgerows: maintain native flowering hedgerows. Managing native species hedgerows for biodiversity is an incredibly important action for all agri-businesses. The rule of thumb for hedgerows is RETAIN | MAINTAIN | RESTORE | CREATE.

2. Wildflowers: allow wildflowers to naturally grow around the farm. Don’t Sow; Let it Grow!
3. Nesting habitat: provide nesting places for wild bees.
4. Fertilizer: Minimize artificial fertilizer use. Increase Clover coverage to fix nitrogen and provide food for pollinators. Other pollinator-friendly cover crops such as Phacelia and Mustard are also great for soil health helping to fix nitrogen or as green manures.
5. Pesticides: reduce pesticide inputs.

    • Is there research being done on farmland pollinators?

Yes the Protecting Farmland Pollinators project was set up to develop and test a whole-farm pollinator scoring system and identify which management practices on Irish farmland benefit pollinators. The aim is to provide farmers with evidence-based actions in creating small habitats to offer pollinators (and other biodiversity) food, shelter and safety on their farms. Protecting Farmland Pollinators was a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020.

  • Our business is real estate/property development – how can we manage sites more effectively for pollinators-biodiversity?

An evidence-based guideline document with actions for new housing developments is in development. It will be released in 2022.

Think about pollinators-biodiversity at all stages of development, construction and management of properties. Refer to information and potential structures here: Irish Green Building Council – Home Performance Index (residential properties), BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and EPD (Environmental Product Declaration).

 

National Biodiversity Data Centre

Implementation of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025 is coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The National Biodiversity Data Centre is funded by The Heritage Council and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage – it is a programme of The Heritage Council and is operated under a service level agreement by Compass Informatics.