Polli:Nation; helping homeless and hungry pollinating insects
Guest blog by Mary Jackson, Learning through Landscapes Projects Manager
Flower-visiting insects play a vital role in the pollination of agricultural crops and wild flowers. The ‘ecosystem service’ they provide through crop pollination is estimated at over £400m per annum in the UK (UK National Ecosystem Assessment, 2011). But these insects are at risk. Polli:Nation is a project that focuses on conserving and restoring habitats for pollinators in an around schools across the UK so that these insects have homes to live in and food to eat.
Did you know that two thirds of our moths and 71% of our butterflies are in long-term decline or that two bumblebee species have become extinct in the last 80 years and other have declined dramatically? This is a worrying situation but we can help.
Polli:Nation is a partnership project led by Learning through Landscapes that is aiming to make a difference. With its partners OPAL (Open Air Laboratories), the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Buglife, TVC, FSE and Stirling University we are helping schools find out which pollinating insects are visiting or living in their grounds, or near by, and then conserve or create new habitats and food sources to encourage more to visit.
To date over 26,000 pupils in 260 schools have been part of the project but we want even more to help us. The OPAL survey is the place to start to find out what are already visiting your grounds, or a site near by. You can download this from the project website – www.polli-nation.co.uk and click on ‘take the survey’. The best time to undertake the survey is March to September as that is when the insects are out and about. You then upload the data onto the OPAL site from where it will be analysed along with everyone else’s information. Reports of the analysis will then be uploaded onto the Polli:nation website.
As well as finding out what it is the grounds already schools are encouraged to create new habitats and food sources for the insects. There are lots of ideas of what you can do on the website, from creating a wildflower meadow to having a bee hive. The survey can then be repeated to see if more insects are visiting the site after the work has been completed in the grounds.
Areas of the curriculum that Polli:Nation links to range from science to the arts at both primary and secondary level. Resources that help you make those links can also be found on the website.
The more people get involved in Polli:Nation the more chance we have of helping feed and house those hungry and homeless insects – insects that ensure we have food and flowers for everyone.
Learning through Landscapes’ vision is that every child benefits from stimulating outdoor learning and play in their education.
We do this through three avenues:
- advocating the benefits of outdoor learning and play at school and pre school.
- inspiring and enabling the design and development of outdoor environments to support children’s development.
- inspiring and enabling teachers and early years practitioners to develop the confidence, ideas and skills they need to make better use of outdoor spaces.