Wildflower meadows plan to boost York’s bug life
Wildflowers are set to be planted in York and meadows could be better protected as councillors launch a strategy to help bees, butterflies and beetles.
Cllr Dave Taylor called for an action plan in 2019 to fight the decline in important insects.
The plan would see habitats for bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles and wasps created or protected across the city, particularly on council land.
These creatures are pollinators – meaning they pollinate food crops and native wild plants – which the council says makes them “extremely important to the UK economy”.
“Without pollinators we would struggle to grow many vegetables and fruits including apples, pears, strawberries, beans and peas,” the council’s strategy says.
But many species are under threat because their habitats have been destroyed, they are harmed by widely-used pesticides and because climate change has altered their food supplies.
Under the council’s plans:
- the needs of pollinating insects will be considered as part of planning decisions
- wildflower meadows will be planted and existing habitats on council land will be protected
- the local authority will study the species of insect common to York
- a drive to educate residents and landowners about the importance of bees, moths and other insects will be launched.
New grass cutting regime
Grass cutting will be less frequent in some locations across the city to provide bees, butterflies and other insects with better habitats.
A network of shelters for insects – also known as ‘bug hotels’ – will be created across parks.
And schools could be encouraged to create wildflower meadows for insects.
Pesticides used by council teams will be reviewed and the use of neonicotinoids – a pesticide particularly harmful to pollinating insects – will stop by the end of the year.
Wildflower seeds will be planted on a verge in Wheldrake and a new grass cutting regime has been agreed, with the first results set to be seen this summer.
According to the council strategy, many bees, butterflies and beetles are already under threat with half of the UK’s bumblebee species in decline, two-thirds of moth species decreasing and 71 per cent of butterfly species dwindling in number.
It says food, shelter and nesting areas are needed to halt the decline of important insects.
Cllr Paula Widdowson said: “We’re already doing some fantastic work across the city from creating a community woodland with 50,000 trees to planting wildflowers on grass verges.”
“We’re changing the way we work at the council too and are using new methods of weed control without the use of chemicals (Glyphosate based products).”
The plan will be discussed at a council meeting on Thursday.