The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP) is having an impact across The Avondhu region, including along the verges on the M8. Motorists may have noticed that the verges were looking a bit barren as hedgecutters cleared the area of yellow furze.
However, the action was taken by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) as part of a biodiversity plan and to prevent a monocultural landscape.
According to the TII, “Motorway verges are designed for biodiversity and much of the areas are given over to wildflower, planting of native woodland fringe and more substantial native woodland where land is available. Unfortunately, when gorse becomes invasive in a motorway environment, it establishes and smothers all other diverse growth and becomes monocultural.”
Furthermore, the gorse is cut as it can pose a fire risk, as if it is unmanaged, the older plants will accumulate dead material that is flammable. The TII say they are a ‘significant contributor’ to the development of the national Pollinator Plan, and that roadside maintenance is planned to increasingly benefit pollinators.
This week, Cork County Council also signed up to the AIPP. The plan is an ambitious five-year roadmap, coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centreplan, and sets our the council’s roadwork to make farmland, public and private land, pollinator friendly.
While Fermoy already has its pollinator plan in place, Mitchelstown’s is currently being prepared and a plan will be implemented in 2022. The council says that the strategy for each town is being led by council ecologist Sharon Casey, and centres around ‘identifying and protecting existing areas that are good for bees and insects as well as planting pollinator-friendly beds, trees and bulbs’.
“The plans also focus on reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides and altering the frequency of grass cutting to allow more native plants to flower.”
‘HOW THE SMALL STUFF BECOMES THE BIG STUFF’
Kay Dawson, local councillor and member of AROMA, Mitchelstown’s Tidy Towns committee, was ‘delighted’ with the plan for Mitchelstown.
“Initially, the plan has identified areas of the town that are all council-owned because that will be straightforward to take action as soon as possible. We’ll work with Sharon Casey (ecologist) to see what exactly needs to be done – what we’ll plant, what can be grown. I’m delighted – it’s not just about Tidy Towns, but it’s about quality of life, it’s the legacies we leave for our children and grandchildren. This is how the small stuff becomes the big stuff,” she said.
Amongst the first areas for action will be roundabouts, public amenities like flower boxes in the square, and entrances into houseing estates like Stag Park. Other actions will be more long-term, and less obvious like reducing the amount of vegetation that is cut back on the ring road to keep it safe for motorists, but not be as severe as in the past. More attention will be paid to when grass verges are cut too, in order to allow for a longer growing season to pollinator-friendly plants like dandelions.
Local activist and Mitchelstown native Amy O’Brien was in favour of the move, referring to it as ‘a small step’ in the right direction.
“I think it’s vital that we not only preserve nature, which is severely under threat, but that we also allow it to flourish. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is an action towards bringing more nature into the area, but in a pollinator-friendly way that is needed for both us and the environment. We can’t stop here and this is a small step, but a step none the less.”
Limerick City and County Council, Waterford, and Tipperary County Councils are all members of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
Community groups, sports clubs and businesses are all invited to sign up to the plan and take actions to restore Ireland’s pollinators, including not just bees, but also butterflies, bats and moths, all of which play a unique and irreplaceable role in keeping Ireland healthy.
This week, the Irish Wildlife Trust are asking people to write to the government, to include rewilding be included in the options for farmers who are in receipt of CAP payments. Rewilding is the practice of ‘letting nature do its thing’.
Successful rewilding will reintroduce ecosystems and species at risk, and, according to the trust is ‘the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to restore natural ecosystems while addressing the biodiversity and climate crisis’.
Rewiliding has been used successfully to increase the numbers of pollinators, and there is a correlation between plant diversity and pollinator diversity.