Councils urged to save bees by not cutting grass

6 Apr 17

More than 80% of the public support the idea of councils cutting grass areas less frequently to protect the nation’s bees, according to a survey by Friends of the Earth and Buglife.

Published today, the results also indicate widespread backing for measures that would help the bee population in the country, such as planting more wildflowers.

Reducing grass-cutting could save councils thousands of pounds every year, the two charities said in a statement.

Almost two thirds (63%) of the public say councils should be doing more to protect bees. To that end, 80% would support cutting grass less often, such as in parks and roadside verges and 88% support councils reducing the use of bee-harming pesticides. Meanwhile, 92% support the planting of more wildflowers and other bee friendly plants in local parks and community spaces.

The charities have published a new guide for councils, Helping Pollinators Locally – Developing a Local Pollinator Action Plan, which was launched at a summit in London today.  

Burnley Borough Council, which spoke at the conference, estimated it could save around £58,000 per year by reducing the frequency of grass cutting.

However, the charities noted that despite significant publicity around the decline of the bee population, only five councils have introduced comprehensive action plans to protect pollinators.

Britain has lost 20 species of bee since 1990, according to the charities, and a further 35 are considered under threat of extinction – none are protected by law.

The action plan launched today urges councils to use the planning system to protect and increase habitat friendly to pollinators, and to work with schools and business to develop flower-rich environments. 

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Friends of the Earth highlighted that local councils had a vital part to play in helping the UK’s under-threat bee populations.

“Policies, such as allowing grass to grow on roadside verges and in certain areas in parks, will help bees, save cash-strapped councils money and are supported by the public too,” he said.

“We hope many more councils will stand up for our bees and nature and introduce comprehensive pollinator action plans in the months ahead.”

The survey was a nationally representative poll of over 1,600 adults across the UK.

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