West Country Buzz - working with landowners in Devon to support pollinator-friendly land management
What is the West Country Buzz project?
West Country Buzz works with a variety of stakeholders to support farmers and landowners to adopt pollinator-friendly farming practices, helping to increase wild pollinators on their farms and across the landscape. Since the project began in March 2016, West Country Buzz has advised on over 270 hectares of land and delivered farm days and various workshops.
The project includes:
- Providing free 1 to 1 tailored advice for farmers on habitat management for pollinators
- Working with farmers in Devon and the wider south west to encourage uptake of the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme: Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package, which provides guidance and funding to help manage farmland better for bees and other wildlife. Support and advice is available from our Conservation Officer on where to locate options for biggest impact & success; ongoing management advice; and assistance with the application process
- Increasing bumblebee recording in Devon to help us monitor populations and detect warning signs, and target conservation efforts.
Bumblebees and other pollinators are essential to farmland:
1. 75% of our most important food crops rely on pollinators, contributing over £600 million annually to the UK economy
2. Pollinators increase crop quality and quantity
3. Forage legumes such as clover need bumblebees for pollination
4. Pollination increases plant genetic diversity, making plants more adaptable to changing conditions e.g. climate change
5. Loss of pollinators could trigger the loss of other wildlife: they are a fundamental part of food chains on which many other species depend.
A focus on Devon
Most advice on pollinators is aimed at arable rather than pastoral farming. This bias urgently needs to be addressed. Working with farmers in Devon means that we can promote and develop the Countryside Stewardship Scheme Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package, taking into account arable, pastoral and mixed farming practices.
For more information on the West Country Buzz project, download our factsheet here.
Contact Cathy Horsley for more information or to arrange a farm visit at email@example.com
The project is funded by Natural England as part of DEFRA’s National Pollinator Strategy.
Lower Pertwood Organics
Lower Pertwood Organics are doing a fantastic job in supporting wild pollinators. Bumblebee nesting and foraging habitat is plentiful and includes areas of scrub, rough grassland, hedgerows, legumes, pollen and nectar and wild bird mix strips, and an abundance of wildflowers amongst the organically grown crops.
They are keen to go that extra mile for wildlife. West Country Buzz suggested temporarily excluding sheep over the summer from a field corner to allow the species-rich pasture to flower, as the pasture here could be spared for the moment. This will increase the amount of food available for bees and other pollinators.
Nick says: “We are very pleased to be working with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Lower Pertwood Organics. It’s been reassuring to find out that our mixed organic farming processes do benefit bumblebees to an extent, but with Cathy’s help and advice we hope to be able to do much more. We are looking forward greatly to seeing a positive upturn n the numbers of these amazing beasts on the farm.”
Photo credit: David White