Solar parks helping to save the declining British bumblebee
Solarcentury and Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) are partnering to promote the use of solar parks in alleviating the plight of the bumblebee, which has declined dramatically. The partnership will promote the development of bee-friendly environments by creating bio-diverse spaces in and around the solar parks Solarcentury has developed.
In the last 100 years, bumblebee populations have crashed, with two species becoming extinct in the UK. Solar parks are ideal environments for bee habitats because they can support a range of attractive micro-habitats. The variety of dry and wet and shaded and sunny areas, if properly planted and managed, can encourage a much wider variety of fauna than improved grassland.
Frans van den Heuvel, CEO of Solarcentury commented: “Whenever we develop a solar park, we plant acres of wildflower meadows with native seed mixes that are specifically designed to attract a diversity of wildlife. Our solar parks are fenced off, and frequently situated in remote areas, which creates a safe haven for wildlife. So in addition to generating clean, carbon-free energy, our solar parks are also helping to reinvigorate the much-loved British bumblebee.”
Solarcentury and BBCT plan to engage communities local to solar parks to highlight how people can grow particular plant species in their gardens and public spaces to support bees. It is hoped that this ‘positive loop’ between solar parks and local green spaces will further encourage the establishment of healthy bumblebee populations, as well as Britain’s rarer bumblebees.
Lucy Rothstein, CEO of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust commented: “We are very excited about working with Solarcentury to enhance the prospects of Britain’s bumblebees, including the rarest Shrill carder and the Brown-banded carder species. Together, we want to improve the quantity and diversity of wildlife both within the solar parks and in nearby communities. We believe solar parks can breathe life into the bumblebee population and contribute to our vision of communities and countryside rich in bumblebees and colourful flowers.”
Taking land out of agricultural production by developing solar parks helps to prevent intensive agriculture destroying delicate ecological habitats. The Government subsidises a similar goal through its environmental stewardship programmes (ELS and HLS schemes). These have a target of creating more than 80,000 hectares of land managed to produce environmental benefits and an increase in biodiversity across farms in the UK. Solar parks can have a dramatic impact on this target so solar parks are just as much a win for bumblebees and other insects as they are for people and the planet, by generating clean energy.