SDCC Pollinator Action Plan 2021 – 2025
The South Dublin County Council Pollinator Action Plan is based on the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. It sets out a broad range of actions that SDCC are committed to implementing over the next five years. All actions are based on reversing declining bee populations in Ireland.
More than half of Irelands bee species have undergone substantial declines in their numbers since the 1980’s. Two species are now extinct, and one third of our 98 bee species are threatened with extinction. 6 species are critically endangered, 10 are endangered and 14 are described as vulnerable.
Bee populations are declining because we have drastically reduced areas where they can nest and the amount of food our landscape provides for them. The use of herbicides has also been very detrimental to their numbers.
For many years South Dublin County Council has been taking actions to support pollinators on public land. We have also worked with local community groups, residents’ associations, and schools, to help raise awareness of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Many of SDCC’s actions require community participation and co-operation. To date the SDCC Pollination Action Plan has enjoyed widespread community support.
Long Flowering Meadows
The main action undertaken by the Council that benefits pollinators and biodiversity involves a restructuring of mowing patterns and timings with a one cut per annum grassland management regime. Currently SDCCs Public Realm Section manages approximately 167 hectares as natural meadows (long flowering meadows). The cutting of the meadows is an important part of their healthy management.
Some of the meadow areas are cut at the tail end of the flowering season in late summer and early autumn. This mimics traditional hay meadow management techniques. Other meadow areas are left to overwinter and cut in Spring. This provides nesting and overwintering habitats for many insects.
The Public Realm Section have allocated funding to allow for this management which involves cutting of the meadows and removal of the grass. Cutting the meadows to collect and remove the arisings, depletes the soil of nitrogen, allowing natural wildflowers to grow and establish. This is a carefully managed and sustainable way of increasing biodiversity while promoting wildflower habitats and providing food sources for pollinators.
Ongoing botanical and insect surveys are part of SDCC’s natural meadow management and will guide future management practices.
SDCC intend to add additional meadows where appropriate throughout the lifetime of the plan.
Short Flowering Meadows
In 2022 SDCC conducted a County wide trial for short flowering meadows (5 cuts per annum). The trial locations were set out throughout South Dublin County and comprised of 8.81 ha in total.
Short flowing meadows are designed to suit public open spaces in residential areas where long flowering meadows may not be practical. This is an objective of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and an environmentally enhancing way of managing public open space. The cutting and collecting programme allows short flowering species to flower and set seed, while also aiming to reduce the overall competition from grass species as the ground is depleted from nitrogen.
This initiative has proved successful and is being expanded for 2023 with approximately 18 hectares now allocated for short flowering meadow management. SDCC intend to continue identifying suitable areas in public open spaces throughout the County to expand the short flowering meadow programme.