Glyphosate is going

Roundup container on grass

Glyphosate is going, going, gone.   

The Pollinator Project is truly delighted that weed killers containing glyphosate are being phased out in 2022 and will be banned from general use in Guernsey from the start of 2023.  

This is such a great first step towards going fully pesticide-free and is a necessary step to protect our fragile wildlife and our sources of locally grown food. Lots of other UK councils have done this as well as whole nations like France and Luxembourg so we’re very glad Guernsey has reacted like this to the latest news on contamination of water courses.    

So what do I need to know?  

Under the Poisonous Substances (Guernsey) Law, the States of Guernsey’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is introducing a restriction preventing these 152 products being sold, stored or used.  

From 31 October you won’t be able to buy glyphosate in Guernsey (or online for shipping to Guernsey).  

From 1 Jan 2023 you will not be able to use or store products containing glyphosate.  

We encourage you to dispose of your products at Longue Hougue recycling centre.  

Professional pesticide users are encouraged by the States of Guernsey to limit their use and explore alternative control methods.  Professional use of glyphosate can only be done by those holding an NPTC certificate of competence.  

Why is this happening? 

Earlier this year Guernsey Water appealed to Islanders not to use glyphosate products after they saw multiple high readings of glyphosate in water courses, which the States says are increasingly linked to domestic use of glyphosate. Many people including the Pollinator Project are also concerned with the impact of glyphosate products on the Island’s biodiversity.  

Robin Gonard, Chief Health & Safety Officer, said: “We do believe it will help improve water quality and protect our biodiversity.” 

What’s the next step in going Pesticide Free?   

We also think there is a need for greater transparency of what volume and frequency of glyphosate products are sold to professionals – and where these are used. We’d also like to see a register of professionally qualified people firmed up so that it is refreshed annually with up-to-date controls of incoming and outgoing contractors too.  

Aside from glyphosate, there are many more products sold and used that harm the environment for the sake of looks. So our aim is to work with government, corporates and land owners to be the first island in Britain to be pesticide-free. We do have a caveat for regulated uses by licensed professionals such as on Japanese knotweed or Asian Hornets but there is little to no need for the other pesticides like chemical insecticides and synthetic slug pellets when there are natural methods available.   We are asking people to stop using all pesticides.    

So what do I use instead? What are the alternatives?  

We would not recommend using most of the branded ‘glyphosate-free’ weedkilling products like Roundup that are on sale in some garden centres as you may just be replacing one problem with another. They often contain synthetic manmade chemicals – which are not naturally in the environment. There’s no requirement for all the ingredients to be listed. There’s very little practical experience of what they do to the environment, and some appear to be not much more than a bottle of chemicals with a marketing label on. And more scientifically-speaking, research by University College Dublin has shown that these new ‘co-formulants” also harm bees. Organic liquids like a mix of white vinegar with a bit of salt work well on grass and broadleaved plants – as does a hoe, a rake, or the new weed burners too.

Or best of all leaving plants to flower and appreciating their beauty and their role in a healthy ecosystem.   

Proposed hedge removal plans will harm wildlife

woman in hedges

Vital wildlife habitats will not be adequately protected under proposed new Development & Planning Authority laws.

The DPA is proposing an overhaul of what types of development work can go ahead without having to apply for planning permission and this is set to be debated in the States next week.

An addition to this list is the removal of a hedge or part of a hedge, as long as it is replaced by new planting of native species within two months. Scant conditions have been set – in that it must not be done during nesting season, from 1 March to 31 July.

But the DPA doesn’t seem to have considered that hedges are a food source in their timing recommendations for hedge replacement.

It’s good that the DPA has thought about birds nesting, which is great, but what about autumn, when birds rely on berries to get through the winter and when one of the only food sources for pollinators is a flowering ivy hedge?

‘The proposal should include the best time to replace a hedge – December to February.’

We the Pollinator Project do applaud the DPA for including the term ‘native species’ in the proposed legislation but said the document would be improved by the inclusion of a list of allowable plants.

This may hopefully stop the bad habit of property developers putting in the cheapest non-native hedge like the awful Griselinia that has almost no use to wildlife.

Another concern for us is the apparent green light for property owners to do away with old hedges.

Does the DPA mean it’s OK to remove a dead hedge or one people just don’t like the look of – one that could be brilliant for wildlife?

The proposal also doesn’t say people have to replace the hedge with one of the same size. As hedges have twice the carbon sequestration properties of trees due to their shape, we could lose carbon sequestration properties for years if we lose many big hedges and they are replaced with tiddly plants that take years to grow.

Hedges get better over time. They start off being a man-made thing and grow into a natural mini ecosystem.

We’d never advocate the removal of an old, tangled hedge.

We praise the DPA’s proposals to save resources and cut red tape, she said, but this should never be at the expense of the environment.

Perhaps the States would like to see our alternative wording:

‘A dead hedge within domestic curtilage that is deemed no longer useful to wildlife by the DPA/approved environmental agent can be replaced by a Guernsey native species of the same size, from the DPA approved list, that has been grown with pesticide-free, peat-free methods’.

Read the full Guernsey Press article

Tell us your thoughts 

Pollinator-themed art exhibition flys high

Local artist Bridget Spinney has curated a pollinator-themed art exhibition in conjunction with the Pollinator Project.

Thirty local artists have contributed a piece of pollinator-inspired art to raise awareness of the role bees, butterflies, hoverflies, wasps and moths have in our food and in nature, and to inspire more people to act to protect them.

Mrs Spinney has contributed to the collection.

Her work is a large collection of organic prints in the shape of a butterfly.

The theme of her work is a celebration of the organic world. She uses leaves, flowers, plantains and more to create the impression of a beautiful pollinator.

‘My work is printed in pollinator plants, and I hope it makes people realise that even here in Guernsey, our insects are in crisis. I hope it makes people think about keeping the habitat safe for these important insects,’ she said.

The 30 pieces of art feature a wide variety of media and were created to form a wide range of commentary about environmentalism, pollinators and climate change.

Read the full article here

Chouet’s Orange-legged furrow bees could be at risk

Barry Wells - Pollinator Project co-founder

Bee species that are rare in Guernsey could be at risk if quarrying starts at Chouet headland.

Our founder and local bee expert Barry Wells said: ‘While modern quarrying does factor in environmental concerns and a bit of off-setting measures, if quarrying at Chouet goes ahead, there’s still a risk of losing important pollinating insects including rare bees that are probably only found on this headland,’ he said.

The Pollinator Project is concerned for the viability of two bee populations at Chouet headland should plans progress to begin quarrying there.

The bee species found on the headland include the Potter flower bee (anthophora retusa), which is now extremely rare in the UK, but widespread at Chouet, and the orange-legged furrow bee (lasioglossum xanthopus), which is very rare and declining in the UK.

The Environment & Infrastructure (E&I) committee has decided – by a majority – to recommend the establishment of a new quarry at the Vale headland, once the current quarry at Les Vardes has been exhausted, which is expected to be in 2023.

In its policy letter, the committee admits that the plan would result in ‘unavoidable localised ecological and environmental impacts’ but argues that this can be offset by measures elsewhere to enhance biodiversity. E&I president Lindsay De Sausmarez has said she would like to see off-setting measures – known as biodiversity net gain – being focused on the immediate area as far as possible.

Quarrying company Ronez has verbally committed to protect the perimeter of the site, along the public coastal footpaths – which may protect the bee habitats – unless they are disturbed by the rock blasting noise, dust and vibrations.

Mr Wells agrees: ‘I think that if we can preserve the habitat around the periphery of the headland, which should be possible, these insects will survive,’ he said. ‘But I am  concerned that the impact on pollinators may be difficult to mitigate if this precaution is not taken.’

‘Some people naively think bees will just move, but they live at that site because it’s best for them and if machinery destroys their nests, that may wipe out an already precious bee population,’ he said.

‘We need to protect those areas that are vital for wildlife’.

The Pollinator Project has also requested that the environmental impact assessment report covers invertebrates and takes into account the local knowledge of the sighting of these bees – not recorded anywhere else in Guernsey.

More news…

Celebrating our Pollinators

On 26 November 2021, the Pollinator Project hosted the 30/30 Art Auction at St James to celebrating our Pollinators and raised £22000 in the process.

30 nationally acclaimed artists who have a connection to Guernsey created artworks to be auctioned. These all celebrated or highlighted the decline of our much-needed pollinators.

The proceeds of the auction have been split between the Pollinator Project, Les Bourgs Hospice and the artists.

These beautiful and exciting paintings and photographs were all snapped up on the night to a range of buyers and we thank our supporters RAW Capital PartnersMartel Maides and St James.

TV naturalist Nick Baker joins Guernsey’s school BioBlitz

Guernsey’s second BioBlitz of 2021 was at Lihou headland on Wednesday 15th September

Broadcaster and wildlife expert Nick Baker attended, along with three of the island’s schools – Vale Primary School, La Houguette School and Castel.

The event was being hosted by the Biodiversity Partnership, Guernsey Biological Records Centre, La Société Guernesiaise and the Pollinator Project.

A BioBlitz is an event which strives to record as many species as possible from a site in a single day. It aids better understanding of Guernsey nature and also provides an opportunity for schools to get involved in ecology practices – searching for and recording our local wildlife.

  • Throughout the day expert recorders worked with local school children to look for wildlife from fauna: (in this case birds, bees, voles, flies, butterflies, moths and bats) to flora: flowers, seaweeds and lichens.
  • There was a series of guided walks for four school groups who found out what exciting species could be seen on the day, and added to the species count.

Barry Wells, co-founder of the Pollinator Project and local bee recorder commented: ‘It’s great that the Biodiversity Partnership supported the Pollinator Project to bring Nick Baker to Guernsey. He’s a huge wildlife enthusiast and a renowned TV naturalist – so it was an amazing coup to have him here to join school groups and record local wildlife at Lihou headland. He also learned about specific Guernsey species and saw their habitats. We have some European species here that are not seen in the UK and some larger species (like the Guernsey Vole) too so we think it’ll be fascinating to get his perspective on our island’s wildlife.’

Becky Ogier, Education Officer at La Société Guernesiaise, commented: “The autumn BioBlitz is a great opportunity for young people to learn about many aspects of Guernsey’s wildlife from our local experts in botany, ornithology and entomology and other ecology fields. Together we created a picture of a ‘moment in time’ in the island’s natural history. It’s not just a fun day out seeing creatures, it’s a brilliant way for children to make a meaningful contribution to collecting data that informs our future conservation efforts.”

Julia Henney, Biodiversity Officer commented: “It was brilliant to be able to run a second BioBlitz in Guernsey this year and saw lots of different wildlife species. We went rockpooling to track shoreline and marine species, which was a great opportunity for people to learn more about our natural environment and give a benchmark  of one place’s coastal plants and animals to help us better understand how wildlife is doing.”

The BioBlitz is funded by the States of Guernsey’s Strategy for Nature fund and is facilitated by local environmental non-profit groups.

Counting the bees

Dr Miranda Bane – Pollination Ecologist

This weekend I’ve felt so very lucky. I’ve been in the garden counting the bees. It couldn’t have been better weather – for me or the insects. The bumblebees, butterflies, moths and flies were making the most of the sun to collect the nectar and pollen they survive on. And they are everywhere – the lawns, the hedgerows, the banks. Anywhere there are flowers – the pollinators are finding them. Perhaps you have been counting them too.

It would be easy, sitting in the sun and watching the buzz of insects, to be lulled into a false sense of security. The bees and the butterflies are here – they seem happy. But across the globe, insects are declining. A 2019 review into global insect populations estimated that they are declining at a rate of 2.5% per year and that 41% of insect species are threatened by extinction. The authors of the paper concluded that we are witnessing the largest extinction event on earth since the Permian Epoch (250 million years ago). These statistics need to be taken seriously. We, and the natural world around us, are dependent on insect pollinators for much of the food we eat and for stable ecosystem functioning. Studies throughout Europe have found similar, alarming evidence of declines, across many insect groups. But what is happening here on our beautiful island?

Why are insects in decline?
First, let us consider what is causing insect declines. We know that there are many complex and interconnected factors at play. The key issues seem to be the loss of food and habitat, the widespread use of pesticides, and climate change. Agricultural intensification has certainly played a role. In Guernsey, we cannot escape global climate change, but we might argue that we haven’t seen the same large scale agricultural intensification as the mainland. Our lanes and gardens are full of flowers – but wild spaces are becoming increasingly rare. Pesticides are used, both commercially and domestically – though people are becoming more aware of the risks. All in all, it’s a complex picture, and without measuring insect populations it’s very difficult to predict their current state.

So, this is why I have been counting the bees. I want to know how healthy our insect populations are and what the long-term trends predict. My current role is as a Research Associate with the University of Bristol.  I also volunteer as Head of Research with the Pollinator Project.  I’m delighted that we secured research funding to bulid a Channel Island wide research project to help us understand and support our pollinating insects. We are collecting new evidence, as well as working with people and organisations who have been doing amazing work recording insects on the islands for many years. This will help us built a better understanding of the current trajectory. And we plan to keep monitoring in the future, as we also work to support and improve insect populations. We want to create a haven for insects on our little island, whilst safeguarding our future and showing the world how it’s done.

How can you get involved?

There are a few simple steps you can take to help support insects and improve our understanding.

Firstly, stop using pesticides. It is one of the most beneficial decisions you can make for the environment.  These chemicals harm bees and other beneficial insects, including hoverflies. Search out natural solutions.

Secondly, create food sources and habitats by planting and allowing spaces to grow wild. A wide range of pollinator friendly flowers, shrubs and trees can provide food for the whole year, while undisturbed areas create valuable habitat for shelter and food. You can put up a bee hotel to provide homes for solitary bees and have a rest as you let your lawn grow. Daisies, dandelions and clovers provide vitally important food.

Finally, contribute to research by observing and recording. You can start with the basics and download our free bumblebee app Bumblr which enables you to submit records of bumblebees you spot. These records form a vital part of our research. I hope you will join me in counting the bees.

ITV’s Louisa Britton reports on Guernsey’s strategy for nature fund

Guernsey has stunning scenery and a huge array of wildlife. But its rich natural habitats need protecting and nurturing. Now, a total of £40,000 of States funding is up for grabs for local projects that want to achieve just that.

Julia Henney: ‘We’re so fortunate. We have a really unique and rich natural history around us. We have species that can’t be found anywhere else. Beautiful landscapes. It’s a wonderful to be able to undertake these projects, but wildlife really does need our support because there are a lot of pressures and threats affecting it. We’re aware of the pressures on our environment and we’re also aware that we need to help. A lot of people really want to help, but sometimes it’s just about showing people how they can intervene and make that change.’

The Pollinator Project, which created a pollinator patch at Candie Gardens, is one of the local organisations that previously received the funding and since then they’ve gone from strength to strength, helping Islanders celebrate Guernsey’s rich flora and fauna.

Gordon Steele: [There’s a] huge amount to be done. … We talk a lot but we have got to take action. The Strategy for Nature really needs funding to support it, not just from government. It’s not something that government just delivers. It’s something we all need to participate in. And the theme of connecting with nature, caring for nature, engaging people with nature is absolutely vital’.

And the work undertaken to support Guernsey’s bees and butterflies is benefiting the island and its residents more widely.

‘Three quarters of all the food that we eat needs pollination and our pollinators are dying out around the world. Guernsey is no exception to that. We’re losing the insects that we rely on. Without them, we won’t have strawberries, raspberries, coffee, chocolate, plums, apples, pears, all the things that we really enjoy.’

Those behind Guernsey’s nature strategy say the timing is apt as the damaging effects of global warming are at the forefront of people’s minds.

Julia Henney: ‘All the research says that we are going to be faced with quite some quite severe impacts of climate change and that won’t just affect us. It will also affect our natural environment and we need a resilient environment to be able to handle that. But also our environment can be one of the tools in our arsenal to try and reduce the impacts of climate change through things like nature based solutions applications.

Applications (for the fund) are now open with the hope that new projects could help boost biodiversity and restore resilience.

To view the report, click here

Nick Baker is coming to Guernsey

On Tuesday 14th September Nick Baker, one of the country’s top TV naturalists is coming to Guernsey.

We are truly honoured to have Nick visit Guernsey as he is an engaging presenter and thoroughly knowledgeable about wildlife.

Join Nick in this uplifting show at St James, when he’ll be sharing his vision for finding new ways of living with nature or learning to be a little less ‘tidy’. You’ll love this personal and intimate evening. Nick is an engaging speaker and his passion shines through. He explores how we can change the way we view and value nature and in turn learn to live with nature, lighten our touch and integrate new values into our lives. He’ll cover the benefits nature can bring to individuals, society and biodiversity as well as give practical tips.
The thrilling talk will show which wildlife benefits from the Tangled Hedge approach, all delivered with warmth and honesty.

The Pollinator Project is delighted to bring Nick Baker to Guernsey. Suitable for all ages.

BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW