A council manager from Burnley has spoken at a national conference to highlight bee-friendly practice in the borough.
At the Bee Summit in London, head of greenspaces Simon Goff shared how reducing grass cutting and planting wildflowers helps protect UK’s under-threat bee population, at the same time helping cash-strapped councils save money.
It was estimated by the council that the meadow management in Burnley has made an annual saving of £58,000 with the figure expected to increase.
Simon Goff said: “People visit parks to enjoy contact with nature and so we are adopting a more ecological approach to managing them, with large areas of previously mown grass now managed as meadows. This saves money, reduces CO2 emissions, increases biodiversity and creates more attractive and interesting parks.
“The council is facing huge cuts and so we are rethinking how we manage our greenspaces. We are focussing on what is important to park users such as removing litter, maintaining play areas and tackling dog fouling and we are saving money in other areas such as introducing more meadow areas and replacing expensive bedding scheme with herbaceous perennials.”
At the summit Buglife and Friends of the Earth have launched a new guide for local authorities on the measures they can take to help pollinators.
‘Helping Pollinators Locally – Developing a Local Pollinator Action Plan’ includes figures from a recent poll and spells out some of the policies councils could undertake.
The survey reveals that over 80 percent of the public back calls for councils to help protect nation’s bees by cutting areas of grass less often in parks and roadside verges to allow wild flowers to grow.
It was found that almost two thirds of the population (63%) agree that local councils should be doing more to help Britain’s bees, with 88% supporting councils in reducing the use of bee-harming pesticides.
The poll also shows that 92% support local authorities in planting more wildflowers and other bee-friendly plants in their local parks and community spaces.
The summit, organised by Friends of the Earth and the Women’s Institute, brought together key stakeholders to review progress on the various national pollinator strategies, celebrate achievements, highlight examples of best practice local action and look at the importance of local authority strategies for pollinators.
Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett said: “Local councils have a vital part to play in helping the UK’s under-threat bee populations.
“Policies, such as allowing grass to grow on roadside verges and in certain areas in parks, will help bees, save cash-strapped councils money and are supported by the public too.
“We hope many more councils will stand up for our bees and nature and introduce comprehensive pollinator action plans in the months ahead.”
Dr Paul Evans, Lead Pollinator Advisor at Buglife said: “We are not advocating abandoning areas of council land but introducing a new less intensive form of grassland management. Effectively cutting grass less in the right places will not only help to counter pollinator decline it will benefit wildlife and people too. The message is a win, win, win for councils save money, help nature, enrich people’s lives.”