Chief Executive Colette Byrne and Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr. Eamon Aylward signing a framework agreement with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to formalise Kilkenny County Council’s long-term commitment to support pollinators in County Kilkenny. Pictured with Dearbhala Ledwidge, Heritage Officer, Kilkenny County Council.
At a ceremony on Monday March 4th, Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr. Eamon Aylward and Chief Executive Colette Byrne signed a framework agreement with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to formalise Kilkenny County Council’s long-term commitment to support pollinators in County Kilkenny.
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is a cross-sector initiative, led by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, with local authorities, farmers, businesses, schools and local communities to support pollinators such as bees. Ireland depends on pollinating insects to pollinate our crops, fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, many of our pollinators are now threatened with extinction.
At the signing, Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Eamon Aylward said “We are delighted to be the first Local Authority in the country to sign up to the Pollinator Plan. Last summer the Council adopted the garden bumblebee as our emblem, so this agreement is an obvious next step for us. There’s much better awareness now about the plight of the bees, and the fact that all of us, including County Councils, can do something to help them.”
The strength of the Pollinator Plan is its evidence-based guidelines which give clear advice on how each sector can improve their land for pollinators – for instance, by reducing grass mowing; by allowing hedgerows to bloom; by planting pollinator-friendly plants; or by reducing the use of pesticides. By helping our pollinators, the Pollinator Plan also improves the landscape for biodiversity generally across the island.
According to Chief Executive Colette Byrne “There isn’t an instant solution to the decline of the bees, but as a Local Authority we can play a small but important role in helping them. We’ll start by looking at the services we provide, such as public parks, road maintenance, and community grants and supports, to see what actions we can take which will help pollinators. This is a long game, but one we’re happy to commit to.”
Many Local Authorities have been taking actions to support pollinators on public land over the past number of years. Many are also working with local community groups, residents’ associations and schools to help raise awareness of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. To better support these efforts and to better promote the work being undertaken, this new partnership framework launched today in Kilkenny, aims to formally recognise Councils as partners of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and to give them recognition for their work.
Speaking about this new partnership with Kilkenny County Council, Dr Úna FitzPatrick, All-Ireland Pollinator Plan founder and Project Coordinator, said “This is such an exciting step. We have witnessed so much positive action by individuals and local communities around the country, and so many councils have made changes to the way they manage their parks and public lands – to make them more pollinator-friendly. We are thrilled that Kilkenny have become the first Council partner to the plan. Kilkenny has really supported the plan from the very beginning, and the Kilkenny Heritage Office has created some really impressive awareness campaigns, particularly to communicate the plan in local schools and Tidy Towns groups.”
In becoming an All-Ireland Pollinator Plan Partner, Local Authorities agree to support the ethos of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan; to consider the Plan in their policies, plans, and management decisions where possible; to carry out one pollinator-friendly action in the first year of signing up and plan to carry out at least three more within the following five years. Local authority partners will also provide updates on the pollinator actions they have planned, implemented or maintained at the end of each year. With current challenges to the natural world, including Climate Change, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan offers local authorities a way of conserving the free ecosystem services provided by pollinating insects.
Dearbhala Ledwidge, Heritage Officer with Kilkenny County Councill, explained ”There’s huge interest from the public in pollinators and an awareness that we have to take action now. I’m very proud that Kilkenny County Council is taking a lead on this, and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues, communities and organisations in the coming years on this. The actions we take will have consequences long into the future”.
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan annual conference, which will focus on how Councils can take actions for pollinators will take place this year in Cork city at the Ambassador Hotel on Thursday April 11th. Speakers will cover council actions, creation of meadows, roadside verge management, effects of pesticides, and alternatives to pesticides. For details on this conference and how to register, see https://aipp2019.eventzilla.net
To find out more about becoming a Council Partner, please see: pollinators.ie/councils/