Pollinators are vitally important ecosystem service providers. They have been credited with being responsible for pollinating one-third of the food we eat; indeed many of our crops are wholly or partially dependent on insect pollination. Hence, the decline in pollinator populations has been a cause of concern not just for scientists, but for governments and the public at large. In the UK, this has led to an official government strategy on how to best protect our pollinators: the National Pollinator Strategy (Defra 2014).
Taking into account the growing number of studies that show the vitally important role urban areas can play in pollinator conservation, the strategy recognises pollinator-friendly management across towns and cities as a key component in nationwide efforts to halt their decline. While understanding of urban pollinators’ needs and experience in managing urban green spaces for their benefit is accumulating, it can often be difficult for practitioners to find the practical advice they need to implement the right measures. This was highlighted at a recent meeting co-organised by Defra and the University of Bristol’s Urban Pollinators Project which recommended the establishment of a central repository of information for urban practitioners.
BU’s Pollinator Exchange HEIF project, launched in October 2015 collaboratively between the Faculty of Science and Technology and the Media School, aims to fulfil this role. It will result in an online portal that links practitioners, academics, NGOs, private gardeners, ecological consultants and anyone else with an active interest in urban pollinator conservation. Users are invited to share relevant guidelines, case studies, summaries of peer-reviewed papers and other content that will help urban green space managers make pollinator-friendly choices based on the latest evidence.
The project is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. A stakeholder workshop in May will provide potential users with the opportunity to comment on the portal’s content and usability, ensuring it will be both useful and intuitive when launched in July. For questions or feedback, please contact Project Manager Kathy Hodder (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Research Assistant Arne Loth (email@example.com).