Council launches plan to help pollinators

Cornwall Council is calling on residents and businesses to help create more flower-rich green spaces to boost the population of vital pollinators.

Bees, butterflies, hoverflies and other pollinators have seen huge declines in recent years from pesticides, habitat loss and the effects of climate change.

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This poses a serious long-term risk to the world’s food supply as they are responsible for pollinating huge numbers of crops in the UK and across the world.

Now Cornwall Council has launched a Pollinator Action Plan to help play its part in tackling the global loss of insects, encouraging pollinators to flourish locally.

Part of the Council’s Environmental Growth Strategy, the proposal outlines ways to make the Council’s land and working practices more pollinator friendly and promises to ensure the needs of pollinators are recognised in council strategies and policies.

It also aims to increase awareness of pollinators and their needs across the council, communities, businesses and organisations and hopes to support local initiatives to help local pollinator species recover.

Schemes the council is already spearheading include the Green Infrastructure for Growth - Making Space for Nature programme which has created 30 hectares of wildlife-rich green spaces in seven towns across Cornwall over the last three years.

There is also the Grow Nature Seed Fund which invites residents and voluntary groups to crowdfund and apply for match funding to improve their community spaces. One success story is Bude Community Orchard which has transformed an area of species-poor grass in the town centre into a community resource full of fruit trees, bushes and wildflowers.

Councillor Sue James, cabinet portfolio holder for the environment and public protection, said: “Given that one out of every three mouthfuls of our food rely on insect pollination, it is vital that we reverse the decline by providing more food and places of refuge for our bees, butterflies and other pollinators. 

“The Pollinator Action Plan focuses on actions to be taken by Cornwall Council across our owned land. We want to play our part in ensuring local pollinator habitats and species recover, providing benefits to farming, tourism and our residents.

“We hope our actions will inspire others to do more for pollinators and they will learn to love insects and wild spaces. I am pleased to say many individuals are already starting to take active steps. These range from changing the way they look after their gardens to being happier with wilder grass verges and making positive consumer choices. People are realising they don’t have to be an expert or have acres of land to make a difference – and by spreading the pollinator friendly word and supporting local conservation efforts, together we can make a real difference.”

Here are the Council’s top gardening tips for making Cornwall a better place for pollinators:

1. Let native plants thrive in your garden

There is no need to spend a fortune at the garden centre when flowering ‘weeds’ are nature’s own source of colour, refuge and food.

2. Plant pollinator-friendly plants

Add wildflower plugs or mixes onto your lawn, in pots or window boxes, even in the smallest of spaces.

3. Avoid garden pesticides

These include weed killers, aphid spray and slug pellets.  Buy organic fruit and vegetables to help pollinators further afield.

4. Leave areas of your garden undisturbed and ‘naturally messy’

Log piles, compost heaps and rough, grassy areas are vital for pollinators to shelter.

5. Cut down on lawn-mowing

Reducing the frequency of mowing and letting daisies, buttercups and clover flower grow is one of the easiest things you can do for pollinators.

6. Help thirsty pollinators

A bird bath or sunken bin lid are ideal watering holes for parched bees and bugs.

The Pollinator Action Plan is available on Cornwall Council’s website www.cornwall.gov.uk/pollinatorplan