OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver the last 18 months Sunderland City Council has worked with the wildlife charity Buglife on the ‘Making a B-Line for the North East’ project to take action for bees and other pollinators across the city.

The project, helping to restore Local Wildlife Sites and enhance local greenspace, is part of a UK-wide network of wildflower-rich areas, which aims to help stop the decline in insect pollinators across the country.

Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for City Services, Councillor Michael Mordey, said: “Some of the land the council owns is incredibly important for wildlife. These areas provide a range of fantastic habitats and have been recognised as Local Wildlife Sites.

“These sites in urban areas, along with sensitively managed parks and road verges can all support a wide range of flowers on which insect pollinators feed.

With this in mind we arranged for the project team to provide extra training for our Customer Relationship Officers and Street Scene Operatives. These sessions focussed on how small changes in management of our greenspaces can increase wildflower numbers and therefore nectar and pollen food resources.

I encourage everyone who has a garden, allotment or even window boxes to do their bit to reduce their use of insecticides and help provide a little extra natural cover for our wildlife.”

Working alongside Durham Wildlife Trust which is based at Rainton Meadows, the project has also visited 15 schools across Sunderland and South Tyneside. Pupils have been involved in sessions learning about bees, other pollinators and wildflowers.

The project is now working with schools to develop wildflower areas and bee hotels in their school grounds. Pupils from Castle View Enterprise Academy have also assisted with wildflower planting at Hylton Dene.

Buglife have been clearing scrub from several Local Wildlife Sites as well as cutting and raking off rough grassland areas with the aim to increase the areas of flowering meadows within Sunderland.

Buglife’s B-Lines Conservation Officer, Dr Paul Evans, said: “The work carried out on the Local Wildlife Sites has helped to conserve the wildlife they support for the benefit of future generations. Already the wildflowers and pollinators are responding to the restoration management.

“Pollinators such as bees, moths and hoverflies are under threat due to things such as pesticides and loss of habitat. They are incredibly important, not just to us for fruit and vegetables but they are also important for many wild plants. These wild plants and flowers underpin a wider and more complex network of animal and plant life that are essential to maintain healthy and biodiverse ecosystems.”

The Making a B-Line for the North East Project has been made possible with funding from Biffa Award, the JP Getty (Jnr) Trust and Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out programme.