As I drift from sleep to wakefulness each morning I put the radio on to hear the latest news. It’s not been much fun recently, between the Libyan crisis and the Japanese nuclear issues, spending cuts and murders – although as an avid Liverpool supporter I was very happy to hear about how we thrashed Manchester City!
Then I was suddenly awake, listening to a man from Buglife, a UK conservation trust for invertebrates, talking about plans for a Bee Road.
We’ve lost over 97% of our wildflower meadows in the UK since the 1930’s, and the honeybee population has halved in the last 25 years. Its not just bees, either – populations of butterflies, moths, other pollinating insects are all declining. We rely on these invertebrates to pollinate the vast majority of our fresh fruit and veg, so this is not just an issue for the lunatic green fringe or the avid wildlife enthusiast. Habitat destruction has made it harder and harder for pollinators to move around and colonise new areas. For once, someone – lots of someones – are making a serious effort to do something about it.
Backed by a £60,000 grant from Co-Operative (my bank, I’m proud to say – not a common phrase these days) Buglife are launching a pilot scheme in Yorkshire. They are encouraging local landowners across Yorkshire to create wildflower meadows, which in turn will create “Bee Roads” running north to south and east to west across the county. They hope to demonstrate that providing rich – and continuously connected – wildlife habitats will in turn lead to an increase in pollinator populations. Using plants such as Lesser Knapweed, Field Scabious, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Red Clover, the long term goal is for Bee Roads to cross the length and breadth of the country. Finally, a piece of good news unrelated to football!
I know that as gardeners we can play our part in supporting wildlife in general, and pollinators in particular. But this kind of scheme, assuming they can reach agreement with the landowners to make the large meadows link up effectively, could make a huge difference country wide. So I am choosing to be optimistic about this particular piece of human endeavour – and am sharing my optimism in a post because Diana@Elephant’s Eye said I should ;-)
You can read more about the scheme on the Co-Operative website and most of the UK online newspapers and news sites are carrying some version of the press release now. Another reason to make Yorkshire a possible next destination for our household?!