From Aberdeenshire Council communications team –
A strategy which aims to address the causes of decline in populations, diversity and range of Scottish pollinator species and help them thrive in future has been approved by Aberdeenshire councillors.
The Aberdeenshire Council Pollinator Action Plan 2022-27 features a number of objectives to make the region a more pollinator-friendly area by preventing further loss of flower-rich habitat, creating new areas of suitable habitat and enhancing connectivity between them, raising awareness and encouraging action across all sectors. The feature image shows this work in action at Redcloak, with irises and buttercups in full flower.
Members of the Sustainability Committee recently welcomed the action plan – produced by the council’s Environment Team – which will see action taken across services to meet the key objectives which include:
- At least 10% of public greenspace to be enhanced and managed for pollinators
- 80 school grounds to provide habitat for pollinators
- A pilot project on the River Don to explore pollinator habitat enhancement
- Modification of the road verge management policy and process to further benefit pollinator populations
- Supply community groups with native wildflower seed to trial on 100 to 200m2 areas
- Share information and experience from works to date/demonstration sites both within Aberdeenshire and from other areas
- Develop guidance on native plant seed collection and propagation
- 150 Ranger Service sessions per year with schools, groups and communities to raise awareness of pollinators
- A yearly NESBReC training course on pollinator identification
Aberdeenshire Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland to produce a Pollinator Action Plan back in 2015, setting out the work the council would undertake to protect, promote and enhance pollinator populations.
Pollinating insects are essential to healthy, functioning ecosystems as they have a key role in the reproduction of many plant species. They are also important to humans – fertilising crops, providing food and pollinating plants in our gardens.
However, pollinator populations have generally been declining over the last 50 years with impacts felt through pesticide use, changes in land use resulting in patchy distribution of natural and semi-natural habitats, and disease. Population impacts linked to climate change are also likely.
The Action Plan continues to help raise awareness of the importance of pollinators both in food production and in ecosystems, while also contributing to the monitoring and recording of pollinator populations. It also recognises the importance of engaging with communities about where greenspace is enhanced and managed to enable pollinators to thrive.
Commenting on the adoption of the new plan, Cllr Sarah Dickinson, said: “It was heartening to hear that the majority of actions in the previous Action Plan had been completed despite the impacts of the Covid pandemic and I would like to congratulate all those involved from across council services for all their hard work and endeavours.
“We have lost around 97% of ancient wildflower meadows in the UK over the last 80 years and where wildflower meadows do still exist, they are often small and isolated from each other, making it difficult for populations of insect pollinators to colonise new areas. Larger areas and better connectivity of suitable wild or cultivated habitat is needed and on land owned and managed by Aberdeenshire Council that will present an exciting opportunity to improve habitat for pollinators.”
Vice-chair Cllr Jim Gifford added: “The 2022-2027 Action Plan sets out a number of important objectives to protect habitat for pollinators, including improving habitat connectivity and a strategy to protect existing areas of wildflower rich grassland. It is particularly interesting to learn of plans to review and modify our road verge management policy and processes in the next couple of years which could have real benefits for our local pollinator populations.”