The summit, hosted by the Greater Bristol Pollinators Network in association with Bristol 2015 European Green Capital, combined the national with local, with representatives from organisations such as Friends of the Earth, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes and the University of Bristol speaking about their efforts to protect pollinators.
Organiser Tim Barsby, Friends of the Earth, opened the day by saying that he hoped Bristol could be at the forefront of the fight against the declining pollinator population. Bristol’s status as European Green Capital in 2015 will help increase enthusiasm, he said, but for initiatives to have the greatest impact, they must be coordinated. He hoped that the summit and the developing Bristol Pollinator Forum would help to connect people and projects, leading to a collaborative effort.
Becky Belfin, Bristol City Council, and Katherine Baldock, University of Bristol, spoke about ongoing work in Bristol, and highlighted projects such as Meadow Bristol, the Urban Pollinators Project, Bristol River of Flowers, and West of England B-Lines.
Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth, set the scene nationally, and spoke about the development of the National Pollinator Strategy. Andrew Whitehouse, Buglife, spoke about the Get Britain Buzzing Campaign. He argued that its seven point Pollinator Manifesto, which includes steps such as ‘properly monitor and understand pollinator populations,’ and ‘value pollinators for the service that they provide,’ must be adopted by society in order to save and sustain pollinators.
Donna Butcher, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, informed the audience of the work the WI has done to raise awareness and engage the public, and Kathryn Lwin, River of Flowers, recommended actions that cities could take to improve their pollinator-friendly habitats.
The conference also included a number of workshops, where participants were asked to map pollinator projects in and around Bristol and make commitments for activities throughout the year. Some made commitments to promote ongoing work, and to increase information and data sharing. Others committed to developing demonstration sites, and creating and auditing pollinator-friendly habitats.
“The main message from Friends of the Earth is ‘Be the generation to save our bees,’” de Zylva said. “We can be that generation, and we have to be that generation. We have no choice.”