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Gardening for

Pollinators

Guernsey’s insects are in trouble – and you can help

You might have heard of the Pollinator Project and thought who are they and what do they do?
We are a group of ten Guernsey people who have been switched on to the plight of our local pollinators: bumblebees, solitary bees, butterflies, moths and other insects.
These insects are in trouble. Climate change, urban growth and the overuse of pesticides have all been devastating for them and two thirds of our butterflies and moths are in long-term decline. Across Europe 38% of bees and hoverflies are also in decline. Why is this important? One out of every three mouthfuls of our food depend on pollination by insects taking place. Without pollinating insects we won’t have any flowers here or any of our fruit, nut and vegetables. It is impossible to overestimate how important pollinators are.
But it’s not too late and you can help out pollinators by stopping using pesticides like weed killers and bug spray, planting for pollinators and creating wildlife-friendly ‘wild’ areas.

Planting for pollinators 

Urban and domestic areas can support a diverse range of insect habitats, and these are becoming increasingly important for many species of pollinators, when managed properly. Just thinking about town, it’s easy to spot grassy areas with even greater potential to provide food for pollinators, including Candie Gardens, the Brother’s Cemetery even the Weighbridge Roundabout.  
Perhaps the greatest opportunity is in our own gardens. Planting pollinator-friendly plants and flowers can make a real difference as well as looking good.  
Island-wide 1700 of our island’s 6300 hectares of land is designated as gardens; this is a massive untapped resource for biodiversity. If we only “set aside” 10% of it for pollinating insects, this would add over 150 hectares to the ‘natural’ habitat of island – the equivalent of over 200 football pitches. We’re asking people to allocate 10% of their gardens to pollinators. 
So we ask you to consider bees, butterflies and moths in your gardens and add plenty of pollinator friendly plants like crocus, wallflowers, lavender, single-petal roses and ivy.
Through action we can hopefully maintain or revive their populations, ensuring our food supply stays intact.  

Education

Just as important to us is how we can bring people closer to the insects, plants and habitats that our natural systems and biodiversity depend upon. Developing local knowledge at a community level about the bee and butterfly species we have in Guernsey and what plants they depend upon for their survival – is just one of our ambitious programmes. We’ve worked with nearly all of the local schools on the island to set up pollinator patches, give talks and let young people really experience nature first-hand. So far over 4000 pupils and teachers have listened to our talks and presentations. And no doubt they’ve taken that message back home as well.
We also work with community groups, businesses and private individuals to help them create “patches” on their land. Following a talk on pollinators to all the islands’ Floral Guernsey groups, we are now establishing partnerships with individual parish groups to enhance areas for these insects. In fact, the “Pollinator Patch” we worked on with the Forest Parish Group as part of their Wildlife Spot, featured in their “Britain in Bloom” submission. We established another patch at the Brothers’ Cemetery restoration in town have extended it which had some lovely praise last summer.
The States are very supportive of our work too, after all we are putting their ‘Strategy for Nature’ into action. We have “Pollinator Patches” on sites owned by Guernsey Water, State’s Electricity, the Agriculture, Countryside and Land Management Services, Guernsey Museum Service and we hope to link them up with a trail in 2022. It’s good progress, but there is still much more to do.

Pesticides harm pollinators

From the outset we have tried to discourage the use of pesticides in gardens and other open spaces. Evidence continues to grow about the negative impact caused by the various chemicals we use to manage our land, both to our own health and to the environment on which we ultimately depend. So, we’ve been researching the alternatives and they are out there. Manual methods and white vinegar spray (or acetic acid) are proving effective.
But we can’t do this by ourselves – we are just ten people. So we hosted two forums at Les Cotils, and over 100 people attended including Deputies and civil servants, representatives from utility companies, NGOs, landscape contractors, groundkeepers from sports clubs, garden centres, and members of the public who wanted to learn more. Following on from that we are discussing with the Environment and Infrastructure Committee how to move these alternatives forward. We introduced a “Pesticide Amnesty” this year, so that gardeners and businesses could dispose of unwanted chemicals safely and could get advice on alternative solutions. Longue Hougue recycling centre takes most types of modern pesticides if you would like to get rid of yours.
So we ask you to consider bees, butterflies and moths in your gardens – through action we can hopefully maintain or revive their populations, ensuring our food supply stays intact.

Preparing a Pollinator Patch at the airport

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