Action for pollinators in 2022
Each year Laois County Council reports to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan on actions taken in the county for pollinators. Here is a summary of actions taken in 2022
- Municipal Districts:
- Portarlington/Graiguecullen MD undertook pollinator actions in the development of a project on Link Road, Portarlington. The project was funded by TVRS and in collaboration with Portarlington Tidy Towns included planting over 22 well developed pollinator friendly Lime trees (Tilia cordata ‘Greenspire’;)), Over 207m of hedgerow comprising approximately 830 plants comprising, holly, hazel, guelder rose, hawthorn and blackthorn. This project also included the planting of 65m2 areas of pollinator friendly flower bed mixes. The area office also planted a wildflower area along the Portlaoise Road when exiting the town. In Emo the area office arranged for the replanting of the Gandon Roundabout on R445 in association with a local sponsor. The roundabout was planted with pollinator friendly plants.
- Portlaoise MD Pollinator friendly plants included in the annual summer (3000 plants) and winter (3000 plants) bedding planting schemes in Portlaoise town centre.
30,000 Pollinator Friendly Bulbs (Muscari, Large Flowering Crocuses, Bluebells, Narcissus, Snowdrop) planted on four main entry points into Portlaoise Town (JFL Avenue, Mountmellick Road, Abbeyleix Rd, Stradbally Road).
- New Perennial Pollinator Friendly Roundabout installed at Fr. Browne Avenue.
- New tree planting and development of attenuation areas to include biodiversity friendly areas commenced at Junction 17 National Enterprise Park. Areas to be completed in early 2023.
Planting of over 200,000 pollinator friendly bulbs to be planted in 2023. Tree Planting to continue in other locations identified around Portlaoise Town New Pollinator friendly planting areas to be designed and planted in 2023
Continued management and improvement of 35,000m2 of annual cut meadows and 1000m2 of short cut meadows in Portlaoise town environs.
Additional new meadows in place and taking shape at Junction 17 National Enterprise Park
- Pollinators and Climate Action –Two videos on Laois pollinator actions were recorded as part of the Climate Action Video Series: on the Pollinator Plan and a case study of Mountrath Amenity park. These will be circulated on social media and to other local authorities as case studies. The Laois Heritage Office jointly ran a series of 4 webinars about local authority heritage projects which support climate action, which included information on pollinators and climate action.
- The Environment Awareness Officer commissioned the design for a biodiversity demonstration site for the Laois Education Centre and contracted An Tasice to deliver 4 native woodland education sites in Portlaoise (An Choill Bheag), supported by the Local Biodiversity Action Fund.
- Pollinators Radio Campaign: The Heritage Office ran an awareness campaign (Feb – Dec 2022) encouraging people to take action for pollinators and biodiversity in their gardens. This involved a total of 1,010 30-second adverts on Midlands 103 local radio stations and a parallel social media campaign This action was supported by the Local Biodiversity Action Fund .
- Gardening for Biodiversity Book and Colouring book – 5,000 copies distributed free of charge. Gardening for Biodiversity book published in Irish and distributed to schools and libraries as well as online, supported by the National Biodiversity Action Plan.
- Sports and Leisure Section Worked with a landscape architect to design and implement biodiversity enhancements of 5 playground areas with an emphasis on pollinators – Portlaoise LC, Mountrath Amenity Area, Doonane Playground, Ballinakill Playground and Stradbally Playground – (Mountrath Amenity Area featured on one of the recently produced pollinator videos). Planted 2000 native hedgerow species in various play/park locations under Trees on the Land programme and 3000 pollinator friendly bulbs All ORIS and CLÁR applications submitted by LCC in 2022 include funding for pollinator enhancement and signage as appropriate
- Laois County Council was awarded the Green Flag Award for both Páirc an Phobail and Peoples Park Portarlington with judges noting the considerable pollinator enhancements in 2022 at both locations
- Biodiversity training was delivered for CE workers in 2 areas who maintain park and amenity areas in Portarlington, Mountrath & Castletown and included plant and invasive species identifications
- 10,000 Trees for Portlaoise Project in conjunction with Trees on the Land, Portlaoise Tidy Towns and Climate Action Plan Trees distributed by TotL to community groups and LCC in Portlaoise area
- 2,000 trees in 2019-20 planting season
- 5,000 trees in 2020-21 planting season
- 7,000 trees in 2021-22 planting season
- Next round of planting for 2023 currently being agreed
Partnership for Pollinators
In 2021, Laois County Council signed up as a partner with the All Ireland Pollinator Plan. See more information on what this means here.
All-Ireland Pollinator Plan
One third of our bee species are threatened with extinction from Ireland. This is because we have drastically reduced the amount of food (flowers) and safe nesting sites in our landscapes. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is about all of us, from farmers to local authorities, to schools, gardeners and businesses, coming together to try to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive. A new plan has just been launched by the National Biodiversity Data Centre for the years 2021-2025. To download the new plan, click on the link below.
The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025 has 186 actions spread across six objectives. It was developed by a 16-member steering group who provide oversight, with implementation coordinated by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Responsibility for delivering the actions contained in this new Plan is shared out between the main partner organisations. The Plan does not have a project budget. Instead, those organisations who have committed to taking action, agree to fund those actions themselves. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is voluntary. See below for details of action being taken for pollinators in Laois.
Pledge your Garden for Pollinators
The National Biodiversity Data Centre, with support and funding from the Local Authority Heritage and Biodiversity Officers, are asking you to Pledge your Garden for Pollinators. Together we have produced a brochure to help explain what you can do in your garden. Click to download a copy of the leaflet.
Pots for Pollinators
The safest and best way to sow wildflower seeds is in pots – this will ensure that you have a colourful display for bees but will also ensure that no non-native and potentially invasive species like Black grass can accidentally be released to the wild in your area. Working with to National Biodiversity Data Centre, the Heritage Office of Galway County Council has produced a helpful guide to Pots for Pollinators – click below to download.
Wild flowers for Pollinators
The advice on wild flowers from the Laois Heritage Office, in line with the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is that wildflower seeds should not be planted outside of garden patio pots.
By simply reducing mowing, amazing wildflowers like Dandelion, Clovers, Self-heal and Bird’s-foot-trefoil will occur naturally year after year at no cost. These common flowers provide the nutrients our insects need. By returning pockets of natural grassland meadows and verges, no matter how tiny, the collective benefit to wildlife is enormous. They’re a long-term and sustainable solution to the biodiversity crisis. It’s tempting to plant what we humans like to look at, rather than doing what our declining pollinators actually need.
Most comercially available wildflower seed is imported from other countries and is not native. There is a huge risk of accidentally bringing in pest species like Black grass that, if spread, would be devastating to the Irish agricultural industry. If individuals or groups decide to buy wildflower seed, it should be sourced carefully, and should only ever be planted in a garden and not in the wider landscape. It’s a colourful ‘horticultural action’, it’s not a ‘biodiversity action’.
In our lawns, verges, towns, villages, and parks, we can help bees and biodiversity by not planting wildflower seed. Instead, we can reduce mowing and allow our beautiful natural Irish meadows to return with native flowers that are meant to be there, without the risk of importing pest species. For people who really want to plant wildflower seeds, “Pots for Pollinators” is a new initiative with NBFC approval to encourage them to do this in a safe and effective way – leaflet is attached.
More information and guidance is available here: https://pollinators.ie/wildflower-seed/
Action for pollinators in Laois in 2021
Laois County Council has now formally signed up as a partner in the All Ireland Pollinator Plan and we look forward to working with Elected Members and Communities in rolling out actions that will benefit pollinators and all biodiversity. Action for pollinators is being taken across many sections of Laois County Council. Listed below are just some of the recent initiatives.
Laois Heritage Office
Management for pollinators at graveyard sites through Just Transition Project (starting 2021)
Pollinator awareness radio ads (aired on Midlands 103 2020 – 2021)
“In Your Nature” podcast ongoing in partnership with BirdWatch Ireland
Gardening for Biodiversity book and colouring book with pollinator guidance
Webinar on gardening for Pollinators with Juanita Browne, Feb 2021
Support for special Local Authority Heritage Officer Pollinator Prize for Tidy Towns Competition
Creation of meadow for pollinators at Timahoe Round Tower
Creation of Pollinator friendly habitat at Fitzmaurice Place
Newspaper article series April – August 2021
Commissioned music piece on pollinators, Thresholds by Ian Wilson
Laois County Council Roads Section
The 10,000 Tree project in conjunction with Portlaoise Tidy Towns , and Laois Offaly branch Irish Wildlife Trust, has seen planting of native trees and hedgerow plants along the Portlaoise Southern Circular route and at Clonminam link road
Pollinator planting on other routes (planned)
Pilot study on reduction in pesticide use in public areas (planned)
Parks and Recreation
Management for Pollinators Portlaoise Town Park
Biodiversity enhancement of Peoples Park Portarlington – Ongoing – 5 year plan
Biodiversity enhancement of playgrounds at Coolrain, Stradbally, Mountrath (Amenity Area & Playground)
Biodiversity enhancement of Portlaoise Leisure Centre campus (In Progress)
Biodiversity Awareness Training for CE participants maintaining playgrounds & amenity areas
Environmental Awareness Officer
Laois Federation of Tidy Towns Webinar on Pollinator Friendly Planting by Dr Fiona MacGowan, Botanist and Tidy Towns Adjudicator
Pollinator Code Guidelines Booklet and ”Managed for Wildlife” All Ireland Pollinator Plan Signs sent to all Tidy Towns Groups