Pardon the “weeds” We’re Feeding the Bees!
Photographs by Vicky Comerford
LtoR: Ned Hennessy, Parks Department, KCC; Mayor of Kilkenny, Cllr. John Coonan; Claire Goodwin, Executive Landscape Architect, KCC; Frank Stafford, Senior Engineer, KCC; Cathaoirleach of KCC, Cllr. Andrew McGuinness and Martin Gaffney, Parks Department KCC.
The Council's Parks Department are aiming to reduce the frequency of mowing in areas under their remit in support of our important pollinators. Reduced mowing allows wild flowers already in the grass to bloom and provide a valuable food source for pollinators. Experts agree that inadequate food supply is a major cause of pollinator declines. Land management practices mean that our landscape often doesn’t provide the abundance and diversity of habitats and food sources that they need to survive.
“Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr. Andrew McGuinness stated he was delighted with this initiative noting; “he would encourage everybody across the county to get on board adding this is about all of us, local authorities, farmers, schools, community groups and businesses coming together to try to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive”.
In April and early May especially, flowers such as dandelions and clovers in lawns and road verges, and willow, blackthorn and hazel in hedgerows are so important. These early flowering plants provide essential early season forage for hungry bees emerging from hibernation. Some of the last remnants of old meadows are at the base of hedgerows and on our roadside verges. Reducing the frequency of mowing allows common pollen-rich wildflowers to naturally grow among long grass.
With this in mind the Council has identified a number of areas where we will reduce mowing to encourage the growth of wild flowers and adjacent hedges. The Ring Road in Kilkenny will now be mown on the City side only, with the verges of the County side of the Ring Road allowed to grow long. The new Ferrybank Park will be managed with pollinator friendly practices also, as will two large meadows in Dukesmeadows and Bishopsmeadows in Kilkenny. At all sites an annual cut will be carried out in late summer/early autumn, removing the cuttings reducing the soil fertility which is preferred by wildflowers.
The Council are actively assessing other sites where we can alter current grass cutting practices and this will be done in consultation with local residents alongside an awareness campaign to explain why mowing is being delayed. Increasingly we are finding many residents groups across the County are enquiring as to alternative ways to manage their grass to support pollinators, and we are happy to provide assistance in this regard.
Mayor of Kilkenny Municipal District, Cllr. John Coonan, expressed his support for this Initiative and stated “it’s widely acknowledged that our pollinators are under serious treat and we must do all we can to help. I feel there is a mood change nationally as to how our green spaces should be managed and it’s great to see Keep Kilkenny Beautiful, Tidy Towns Groups and other Residents’ Associations at the forefront of this mind shift”.
Pat Boyd, Chairman of Keep Kilkenny Beautiful stated his delight at the Councils proactive stance on implementing practical measures to assist pollinators, adding “Keep Kilkenny Beautiful is committed to the objectives of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and it’s wonderful to see the Parks Department changing their mowing regime in certain areas of the City to encourage more native wild flowers”.
Kilkenny County Council is a supporter of the recently launched All-Ireland Pollinator Plan for 2021-2025, a new five-year road map that aims to help bees, other pollinating insects and our wider biodiversity. Kilkenny County Council is looking forward to continue working in partnership with communities and Tidy Towns Groups to encourage and support a better way of managing our whole landscape to permanently support our struggling biodiversity.