SDCC Pollinator Action Plan 2021 – 2025
The South Dublin County Council Pollinator Action Plan is based on the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and it sets out a broad range of actions that the Council has committed to implementing over the next five years. All actions are based on reversing the decline in bees in Ireland.
More than half of Irelands bee species have undergone substantial declines in their numbers since the 1980’s. Two species have gone extinct, and one third of our 98 bee species are threatened with extinction. 6 species are critically endangered, 10 are endangered and 14 described as vulnerable.
Bees are declining because we have drastically reduced the 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. This plan involves all sectors in society from local authorities, community groups, sports clubs, farmers and many others all playing a part. Many of SDCC’s actions require community participation or co-operation and to date the SDCC Pollinator 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 SDCC Public Realm manage over 160 hectares as natural meadows (long flowering meadows). Regular cutting of the meadows is an important part of the healthy management of meadows.
Some of the meadows are cut at the tail end of the flowering season. This mimics traditional hay meadow management techniques. Other meadows are left to overwinter and are cut later in the Spring. This allows nesting/overwintering habitats for many insects.
Public Realm have allocated funding to allow for this management which involves cutting of the meadows and removal of the grass. Cutting and collecting the meadow depletes the soil of nitrogen, allowing natural wildflowers to grow and establish during the following years. 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 will be conducting a County wide trial on short flowering meadows (5 cuts per annum). The trial locations are set out throughout South Dublin County and will comprise of 8.81 ha in total.
Short flowing meadows are designed for public open space and more residential areas where long meadows aren’t suitable. This incitive is an environmentally enhancing way of managing public open space and is an objective of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. The cutting and collecting programme will allow 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 the potential to vastly expand the areas we manage for pollinators activities. If the trial is successful residents’ associations can request areas within their estates be left for short meadows to promote pollinator food sources and habitats. This type of management is suitable to areas where residents would like to allow flowers such as dandelions to flower but where natural meadows would not be suitable or acceptable to residents.