Mags Sheehan, local election candidate for the Claremorris area, is calling for Mayo County Council to adopt the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. So far just a handful of other councils have adopted the advice and methods set out in the plan, which is designed to combat dwindling numbers of pollinating insects.
According to Sheehan, a recent survey found that 88% of people want to see action taken to save bees.
"People realise that bees are vital for our whole ecosystem, for our food supplies and for our natural heritage. Many are taking the lead on this by growing pollinator friendly plants, and adopting safe methods of weed control.
"Hoverflies, butterflies and moths also pollinate our food, but they too are dropping in number. Recent research highlighted an annual 2.5% drop in insect numbers globally, and their role as food for many other creatures means their loss is a threat to all of us. Many people will remember having to clean windscreens of cars after a long journey, and we no longer have to do that. That is evidence in itself of how many insects we have lost”, said Sheehan.
According to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, bee numbers have been dropping quite dramatically in recent years, it seems for a variety of reasons, said Sheehan, adding: "The actions in the Pollinator Plan are designed to provide food, habitat and a safer environment for pollinating insects, in an effort to recover numbers. Among the measures recommended is reducing the frequency of grass cutting, an action that would save fuel, time and money. It also allows our native wildflowers to re-emerge. Another is to stop the use of pesticides, i.e. weed-killer, etc, to where absolutely necessary , for example to deal with invasive species. An added bonus is that towns and villages will earn extra points for biodiversity in the Tidy Towns competitions. It’s a win-win situation.”
Sheehan, who volunteers in a community group working to highlight the importance of biodiversity, attended a recent conference on biodiversity in Dublin Castle, at which, she said, President Michael D Higgins spoke of the increasingly apparent reduction of numbers in many Irish species.
"The President stated that if we were coal miners, we would be up to our knees in dead canaries. Following the Landmark UN report which highlighted unprecedented biodiversity loss, we need to act urgently. The signs are there all around us that our biodiversity is in danger and although we as individuals can help, by adopting the Pollinator Plan framework, Mayo County Council could start to make a much bigger difference to our environment, and probably save public money whilst doing it", concluded Sheehan.