World Bee Day 20th May 2023: Minister Hackett highlights the importance of Bees and other Pollinators
Marking World Bee Day, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity, Senator Pippa Hackett visited the farm of Ken Gill in Clonbullogue, Co Offaly and the took the opportunity to link up with the Pilot National Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.
Under the theme “Bee engaged in pollinator-friendly agricultural production”, World Bee Day 2023 calls for global action to support pollinator-friendly agricultural production and highlights the importance of protecting bees and other pollinators, particularly through evidence-based agricultural production practices. Bee and pollinator populations are fundamental for the health of ecosystems and food security. They are under threat from changes in land use and agricultural practices which have greatly reduced their food resources and access to nesting sites. In Ireland one third of our wild bee species are threatened with extinction and Bumblebee populations show a worrying year on year decline of 4.1% since 2012.
Minister Hackett said “It is great to see the Pilot National Pollinator Monitoring Scheme now in its second year of surveys and hear about the popularity of the project with farmers. Monitoring of bee species and other pollinators is central to tackling declines and ensuring successful measures for their protection are in place. Ireland is leading the way in the EU by having a pollinator monitoring scheme in place”.
Ken Gill is a full-time organic farmer operating a suckler to beef system on his 95 hectare farm. Ken is taking part in the Pilot Pollinator Monitoring Scheme with 5 visits taking place on his farm over the summer. The farm has beautiful examples of important habitat for pollinators including flowering hedgerows, large mature trees and semi-natural woodland and plenty of flowering species in the sward. Ken says about the project “It is great to be taking part and learn about the pollinator monitoring survey. We have plenty of wildlife habitat here on the farm and are happy to contribute to finding out more about bee and other pollinator numbers”.
Minister Hackett concluded by commending the work of the project and Ken on his pollinator friendly farm, “It has been fascinating to see such interesting and important scientific work going on here on a beautiful farm to celebrate World Bee Day. The visit has given a real insight into what pollinator monitoring involves on the ground and the different methods used. The pilot study will be hugely important in providing a baseline from which we can work to achieve policy targets for reducing the declines of bees and other pollinators. It is great to see such a positive example of how farms can offer to support pollinators. I wish the project ongoing success and look forward to seeing the results which no doubt will contribute to evidence-based agricultural actions and measures to tackle the threats to bees and other pollinators”.
- World Bee Day 2023 To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May as World Bee Day. The goal is to strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators, which would significantly contribute to solving problems related to the global food supply and eliminate hunger in developing countries.
- The All Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP)
DAFM has provided financial support to the All Ireland Pollinator Plan since it was first published in 2015 as well as being a member of the steering committee. The first All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020 (AIPP) was published to build upon grassroots support and provide a framework through which all sectors could come together to better protect pollinators for future generations. The Plan is one of the flagship projects of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, who co-ordinates implementation of the Plan. The Plan is voluntary but has been endorsed by more than 100 governmental and non-governmental organisations across the island of Ireland and has seen continually increasing levels of interest and support since publication. In 2021, the Second AIPP was published to build on this success. The new AIPP 2021-2025 includes a higher level of ambition with the key objective remaining to make our landscape more pollinator friendly. As part of the AIPP 2021-2025 DAFM provide funding for the provision of a ‘Farmland Pollinator officer’ to assist in the implementation of the farmland actions in the new Pollinator Plan.
- Pilot National Pollinator Monitoring Scheme. Irelands Pilot National Pollinator Monitoring Scheme was launched July 2021. It’s jointly funded by DHLGH and DAFM with the implementation coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC).
The aim of the Pilot National Monitoring Scheme is to detect status and trends of Wild pollinators with monitoring at approximately 36 sites including farmland. The Scheme had a successful first year of data collection in 2022 and is in the preparation stage for the 2nd monitoring season to start shortly in 2023. The outcomes from monitoring of population trends will help inform policy and future CAP schemes and measures.
- The EU Pollinator Initiative was published in 2018 to respond to the EU need for action on Pollinators. The Initiative presents strategic objectives and a set of actions to be taken by the EU and its Member States to address the decline of pollinators in the EU and contribute to global conservation efforts. It sets the framework for an integrated approach to the problem and a more effective use of existing tools and policies. DAFM Biodiversity section along with colleagues in the NPWS participate on the EU Expert Working Group.
- ACRES: Pollinators are accommodated in the new ACRES agri-environmental scheme through a results-based approach under the Cooperation Projects in High Priority Geographical Areas and through Targeted Actions in the ACRES General. This new €1.5 billion agri-environment scheme is a farmer-friendly scheme to help address biodiversity decline while delivering financial support for farm families in Ireland. The ACRES General scheme has a wide range of targeted and general biodiversity actions which will benefit pollinators both directly and indirectly. The ACRES Co-operation approach is a results-based payment design which will reward farmers for appropriate management of high priority geographical areas. Co-operation project teams will be responsible for the design of bespoke farm and landscape actions to target and support priority habitats and species in local areas.
- Organic Farming: The target set out in the Programme for Government is to achieve a rate of 7.5% of the total land area farmed organically by 2027 while the revised target set in the Climate Action Plan is to achieve 10% organic land area by 2030. Under the Climate Action Plan, the aim is to increase the area of organic production to approximately 445,000 hectares by end of decade.
- European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs): The ‘Protecting Farmland Pollinators’ EIP was awarded €1,194,679 for a five year project to trial a results based agri-environmental scheme focused on measures to benefit pollinators across all farm system types. The projects aims to encourage farmers to provide small wildlife habitats for pollinators and biodiversity, in terms of food, safety, and shelter, on their farms. Learning from this EIP will be used to inform future agri-environmental schemes for pollinators.
Under EIP call 5 two further Pollinator EIPs were funded for 2021-2022. The Great Yellow Bumblebee project focused on Ireland’s rarest bumblebee species and the last remaining healthy population on the Belmullet peninsula. Measures were focused on grazing management and habitat restoration and creation. The Farmer Moth Monitoring EIP recruited 20 farmers to test monitoring techniques on farmland.
- LIFE Projects: DAFM provides support for several LIFE projects which focus on the conservation of Ireland’s threatened habitats and species. The LIFE on Machair (LOM) project in particular has a pollinator focus and will work with farmers through engaging with site restoration plans for Machair sites in Galway, Mayo and Donegal.