Red tailed bumble bee and common carder bee.
Tidy Towns groups in Laois are being urged to enter a special award in the National Tidy Towns competition which promotes the protection of bees and other pollinators.
Irish bees and other pollinators contribute €35 million a year to the Irish economy by pollinating our plants, trees and vegetables. They are under serious threat for survival because they don’t have enough food to eat or places to live.
In response to this, in 2016 Local Authority Heritage Officers and Biodiversity Officers, in partnership with the National Biodiversity Data Centre, launched a new Tidy Towns “Let’s Get Buzzing- Local Authority Pollinator Award”. This Special Award encourages Tidy Towns groups to support theAll-Ireland Pollinator Plan by making their communities more pollinator-friendly. There is an attractive prize fund of €9,000.
Ann-Marie Kelly is Tidy Towns Co-ordinator with Laois County Council.
“We hosted various events to promote the role of pollinators over the last few months and these were well attended. It is clear there is a huge interest in making Laois more pollinator friendly.
"The interest shown by our Tidy Towns committees illustrates their ongoing commitment to enhancing our natural environment. My colleagues and I are very happy to help groups become more pollinator friendly and build on our joint commitment on an annual basis,” she said.
There was a great response to the award in 2016 with 58 Tidy Towns groups taking part. Monaghan Tidy Towns, national winner in the large town category, turned their town into an urban orchard, by encouraging residents to plant pollinator friendly fruit trees.
“Most pollinator actions are not costly or too complicated” explained Catherine Casey, Heritage Officer with Laois County Council. “They can range from simply changing the grass mowing regime, to planting pollinator friendly trees and shrubs, or raising awareness by promoting the Junior All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to youth groups and schools. Local communities can lead the way in creating an Ireland where pollinators can thrive”
The National Biodiversity Data Centre has produced practical guidelines to help communities and Tidy Towns groups to take action. The guidelines and other useful resources can be downloaded at http://www. biodiversityireland.ie/ projects/irish-pollinator- initiative/all-ireland- pollinator-plan/local- communities/.