Wild insects such as bees and hoverflies play an important role in successful plant reproduction through the pollination of many wild plant and crop species. This pollination service ensures we have access to a large selection of food required to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet and lifestyle. It also has an economical benefit with insect-mediated crop pollination contributing nearly €15 billion per year to the European economy and up to €59 million per year in Ireland though home-produced crops.
Insect pollinators also indirectly benefit other aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The wild plants that rely on or benefit from insect pollination in turn produce food for wildlife (e.g. fruits and seeds), help in nutrient recycling (e.g. Nitrogen fixation) and mitigate climate change (e.g. remove carbon from the air).
Why do we need an Irish Pollinator Monitoring Scheme?
Insect pollinators are experiencing global population declines with negative consequences for pollination services and ecosystem stability. In Ireland, 30 of our 99 wild bee species are at risk of extinction. In order to develop effective pollinator conservation strategies to protect and enhance pollinator communities, information about how populations are changing is needed.
The EU Pollinators Initiative adopted by the EU Commission and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP) highlight the need to address insect pollinator declines with a key action being to set up a monitoring scheme across a range of habitats to enable the evaluation of actions taken to tackle the decline of pollinators.
This pilot Irish Pollinator Monitoring Scheme aims to detect the status, trends, and distribution of wild pollinators, and their interactions with plants overtime across farmland, semi-natural areas and urban parks. The information collected can be used to inform pollinator monitoring and conservation strategies at the local, national and EU level as well as assess the impacts of the AIPP.
What does the pilot Irish Pollinator Monitoring Scheme involve?
The pilot Irish Pollinator Monitoring Scheme will consist of 50 1km2 sites across the Republic of Ireland, incorporating farmland (beef, dairy, sheep and tillage), semi-natural habitats (calcareous grassland, old sessile oak woodland, dry heaths and fixed coastal dunes) and public land (urban gardens and amenity areas). Sites are being selected using a random stratified approach to ensure they are representative of the overall landscape.
Each site will be visited 5 times (once a month) from April to August 2022 and insect pollinators (bumblebees, solitary bees, honeybees, hoverflies and butterflies) sampled using pan trapping, transects and Flower-Insect Timed Counts. Flowering plants will also be recorded to monitor what plants are available as pollen and nectar sources for foraging pollinators throughout the sampling season. The scheme has been designed so that sampling can be completed by one person within the same day.
Interested in getting involved?
We are seeking surveyors to survey insect pollinators and flowering plants at one site (or more if they wish) five times across the season. Each surveyor will be paid a daily rate of €250 (mileage and expenses will not be paid in addition to this) and receive sampling equipment and ongoing training through the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Some experience with pollinator sampling or/and identifying would be preferred.
More details will be released over the coming months, but to indicate your provisional interest, please send your name, email address and where you are based in Ireland to firstname.lastname@example.org
The pilot Irish Pollinator Monitoring Scheme is managed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre and is funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
An equivalent scheme is in operation in Northern Ireland, under the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.