By Cian Molloy - 20 May, 2019
“Ground around centres of worship, presbyteries, convents and graveyards can play a crucial role if they are managed as safe places where our wild bees and other insects can find food and shelter.”
Faith communities have an especially important role in ensuring a suitable environment for our bees, according to the National Biodiversity Centre.
Today (20th May) is United Nations’ World Bee Day, held to remind humanity of the role bees, and other pollinators, play in our inter-dependent world.
According to the National Biodiversity Centre, Ireland has 99 native bee species, a third of which are threatened with extinction. A key issue is that, with urbanisation, many bee species are losing ideal habitats and access to the plants on which they rely for food.
Dr Úna FitzPatrick of the National Biodiversity Data Centre said finding enough food was the biggest challenge pollinators face – and this is an issue faith communities can help address.
“Ground around centres of worship, presbyteries, convents, graveyards, as well as gardens of those in the congregation, can play a crucial role if they are managed as safe places where our wild bees and other insects can find food and shelter.
“In the coming years, we are looking forward to working with faith communities to make small changes on their land, which will have huge impacts for bee conservation and biodiversity in Ireland.”
In an address marking the day, President Michael D. Higgins said humanity depends on pollinators. “They are vital to the global food chain. Yet, we must acknowledge that our actions – including farming practices, urbanisation, land management, environmental pollution and the climate crisis – have placed our insect world in acute danger.
“So today, let us use World Bee Day, and National Biodiversity Week, to increase and spread the knowledge and the awareness of the importance of the living world, and commit to specific action to ensure the survival of all of Ireland’s native bee and pollinator species.
“As President of Ireland, may I thank all those who are already taking action, and who continue to work to conserve our environment in all its vital diversity, and may I express the hope that World Bee Day and National Biodiversity Week will inspire countless others to join them and discover how they, too, can be part of the urgent change that we must achieve for our generation and generations to come,” President Higgins said.
*The National Biodiversity Centre has produced a guide for faith communities on how to develop bee-friendly environments.