Thursday, 29 March 2012

Bee-friendly campaign

40 people from as far away as Sheffield met at Darlington for a Friends of the Earth event “Bee prepared” planning a wonderful campaign about re-connecting with nature, bees and bio-diversity.

Bees are having a bad time at the moment with disease, pesticides and pollution causing colony collapse; there is lots of evidence to suggest that increasing forage (wild flowers, clover, hedging etc) and different sources makes bees more resistant to this. Over 97% of wild flower UK meadows have been lost.

Bees make £50m a year for the UK but if there were no bees to pollinate orchards, tomatoes, strawberries etc it would cost 1.8 BILLION a year to hand pollinate them as they have to do in some parts of China. "The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director in an article for the Independent. "The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature. Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature's services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

We hope to make a major feature of the RHS “Britain in Bloom” contest which this years theme is “Wild about Wildflowers” and to try and push its Environmental responsibility core area. Locally Stockton-on-tees has won BiB twice and so it is likely that we can make a real difference. Also Mbro, Redcar and Stockton FoE have good links with all three councils, so things like mowing later in season, planting bee friendly flowers and some set aside areas could be achievable. Nationally we hope for some legislation.

One of the more fun things we plan to do is have an educational aspect to the campaign in schools and so our youngsters showed us how to make some costumes. So it is quite likely that you may see Friends of the Earth stall at a garden centre or park.

After the conference we went along to Darlingtons Grow zone, at Lingfield point, where Darlington Friends of the Earth have built a glorious allotment.

If you can help us in any way please step forward, there are active groups in Mbro, Darlington and we hope to start ones in other area meeting places!

Rob Tucker 01642-294580

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