Fenit is never not a hive of activity. Whether there’s swimming, sailing or just a walk on along the beach or the pier, there’s always something going on, which is why you’d be forgiven for not having heard of the latest project happening in the seaside village out west.
he latest happenings are the brainchild of a local volunteer group called ‘Fenits Changing Tides’ and what they are currently working on is a new wildflower and pollination project in an undeveloped overgrown green area in a local housing estate.
There has been a lot of talk over the last number of years about the declining bee population and the devastating effects that this would have on our planet as a whole and as the saying goes ‘change begins at home’ and this exactly what the Fenit volunteers are trying to do with their project.
Their project – which is part of a larger national programme under the All Ireland Pollinator Plan – is one which they hope will reverse the loss of pollinators in the area – animals such as birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees are all classified as pollinators.
Gráinne Clinton is one of those involved in the project and she gave The Kerryman a run down this week on what it’s all about.
“Our plan is to bring our green area back to the wild hayflowering meadow of old. In 2015, Ireland became the first country in Europe to address this issue, a plan of action to reverse pollinator losses to help restore healthy populations. The plan is about all of us coming together to try and create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive,” she said.
“So far we are the first community in Fenit and Tralee to join the online mapping system for biodiversity Ireland, that allows us to register the actions our group will take and put our pollinator friendly location on the map,” Gráinne continued.
Going on, Gráinne said that their group got the inspiration for their idea when the Spa Tidy Village Group – who are progressive in all matters of biodiversity through their no mow in May policy, nettle appreciation and many more – posted a blog entitled “Sowing the Wildflower Seeds of Doubt ” by Dr Noeleen Symth, a conservation officer at the National Botanical Gardens. Having read the blog, Gráinne said that the group were surprised to learn that many commonly available wildflower seed packets do not help bees or biodiversity and also there is a high risk of accidently bringing in pest species like Black Grass that if spread would be devastating to the agricultural industry.
“We emailed Dr Smyth and also Cathy Fisher , the biodiversity officer with Kerry Co Council and thankfully both were kind enough to give advice on our site. Then we applied and were extremely grateful to receive funding for our project from Kerry County Council under the 2021 Community Enhancement programme,” she said.
On advice from the experts the funding they have received will be used to:
- To cut and clear the area entirely because it’s apparently of utmost importance that we collect all the grass and take it away as wildflowers need poor soil.
- Purchase and plant yellow rattle seed which acts as a semi parasite on the grass and gives dormant flowers a chance to grow.
“After this, patience is the key. It can take three to four years of annual cutting before a site will reach its full potential. So our estate will wait for a naturally regenerated meadow rather than a commercial wildflower one. It might look less attractive but is much better for biodiversity as they contain native pollen and nectar rich flowers that have evolved with the insects and that are meant to be there,” said Gráinne.
“We badly need to change. A neatly manicured lawn looks tidy but to our wildlife it must look like a barren waste with all their food crops wiped out, dandelions, clover, buttercups etc. One third of our 98 bee species are threatened with extinction because we have managed to tidy, strim, mow and spray away many of the wildflowers that our starving pollinators need. No matter how small the area, the collective benefit to wildlife is enormous, that’s why our group wanted to take this small action,” she finished.