Good practice general information
Title of the practice
All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP) Framework
Organisation in charge of the good practice
National Biodiversity Data Centre (IE)
Short summary of the practice
The loss of natural and semi-natural habitats has been a key driver in pollinator declines. However, in an era of increased agricultural mechanisation & intensification, urbanisation and commercialisation, this is often not a clearly communicated message. Despite this, a recent survey has revealed that 88% of the Irish public want the Government to do more to help bees (iReach Insights survey, Sept 2018). The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP) and its framework is an island-wide (Ireland and Northern Ireland) attempt to reverse declines in pollinating insects (primarily bees and hoverflies). In providing targeted and actionable information that can be used to sell a biodiversity message to a very wide audience, it has been developed in recognition that the decline of pollinators is a serious problem which requires immediate attention to ensure the sustainability of our food production, avoid additional economic impact on the agricultural sector and protect the health of the environment.
Category of the good practice
Information dissemination and awareness raising
The AIPP was developed without funding by the fifteen-member steering group. The National Biodiversity Data Centre contributed €2,000 for document (graphic) design and a limited print run. There is no fixed implementation budget for the AIPP. In 2020, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine provided a small budget to develop resources (€15,000), while 100+ partners fund their own actions. Others (mainly partner local authorities) fund print runs and dedicated activities e.g. awards and videos. There is no dedicated permanent staff for the AIPP, with the steering group chair (project manager) dedicating 1.25 days/week within their existing role, while a dedicated project officer position is subject to external funding. In 2020, funding for a project officer was secured from a partner organisation – SuperValu (a supermarket chain) – to the value of €55,000 including T&S. As such, implementation of this GP in 2020 is funded to the tune of approximately €70,000.
Timescale (start/end date)
The first Plan covers the period 2015-2020 and a new version is currently under development to cover the 2021-2025 period.
Strategic relevance (long term impact)
In Ireland, pollinators are estimated to contribute €59 million/annum to the economy. Within the last 10 years, the value of soft fruit, field vegetable, and apple production has increased by 17, 21 and 24% respectively with most pollination of crops and wild plants carried out by bees. Despite this, due to biodiversity loss, one third of Ireland’s 98 wild bee species are threatened with extinction. At its core, the AIPP is about providing food and shelter across all types of land so that pollinators can survive and thrive. It creates a framework to bring together pollinator initiatives across borders (Ireland and Northern Ireland) through coordination and cooperation. Without the pollination service freely provided by bees and hoverflies, it would be increasingly difficult and expensive for farmers to produce some crops at current scales, and could result in a loss of consumer choice for locally grown products. The beauty of the landscape would also be affected without pollinators to maintain the diversity of wild plants and support healthy ecosystems. The AIPP has 5 strategic objectives: 1) Making Ireland pollinator friendly by focusing on actions that can be taken on farmland (4 targets & 12 actions), public land (3 targets & 22 actions) and private land (2 targets & 5 actions), to achieve a joined-up network of diverse and flower-rich habitats to support pollinators across Ireland (1 target & 3 actions); 2) Raising awareness of pollinators and how to protect them (3 targets & 11 actions); 3) Managed pollinators – supporting beekeepers and growers to achieve healthy, sustainable populations of managed pollinators that can play a full role in delivering pollination services (4 targets & 7 actions) ; Expanding our knowledge of pollinators and pollination services (4 targets & 11 actions). On 1 June 2018, the European Commission adopted a Communication on the first-ever EU initiative on pollinators. The Initiative sets strategic objectives and a set of actions to be taken by the EU and its Member States to address the decline of pollinators in the EU and contribute to global conservation efforts. It sets the framework for an integrated approach to the problem and a more effective use of existing tools and policies. Drawing directly on the AIPP, the initiative sets actions under three priorities: 1) Improving knowledge of pollinator decline, its causes and consequences; 2) Tackling the causes of pollinator decline, and; 3) Raising awareness, engaging society-at-large and promoting collaboration. In this way the AIPP framework has provided a basis for the strategic abatement of pollinator decline in Europe.
Evidence of success (results achieved)
According to the AIPP Year 4 Progress Report (10th December 2019), the AIPP is supported by 108 governmental and non-governmental organisations and over 230 businesses across the island of Ireland. Of the 81 actions in the Plan, 96% are now either completed or ongoing through collaboration with wide-ranging project partners. The AIPP has directly informed the development of pollinator strategies published in Scotland (2017), Norway (2018) and the Netherlands (2018) and the AIPP team continues to collaborate with the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) to provide free resources to EU regions and states who are developing pollinator strategies in line with the EU Pollinator Initiative (2018).
In March 2019, a structured framework where Councils (local authorities) sign-up as formal partners of the Plan was established. In so-doing, they agree to support the core ethos; take at least four pollinator friendly actions within the following five years (one in the first year), and report annually on the positive pollinator actions planned, implemented or maintained. This allows for the measurement of concrete results. More broadly, full adoption of the online mapping system – ‘Actions for Pollinators’ which is designed to track actions for pollinators and record pollinator sightings and monitor known populations – is facilitating the quantification of wider concrete results.
The AIPP was developed without funding, with all Steering Group members (15) participating through their current work remits or in a voluntary capacity. Limited funding for publication of the Plan was provided by the National Biodiversity Data Centre from within their budget in 2015. Since then, funding has been variously obtained from a variety of national sources including the Heritage Council, Bord Bía (the Irish food board) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Across all sectors (farmers, councils, transport authorities, local communities, faith communities, businesses, schools, gardeners), the number of individuals and organisations engaging with the Plan and taking actions to help pollinators continues to increase. Voluntary management is directly linked to data and monitoring, making management easier. Indeed, there is an argument that the voluntary nature of management and the lack of funding has promoted efficiency in the GP. The AIPP framework thereby presents itself as a potentially durable model for similar or complimentary initiatives in different regional contexts. Key challenges include the lack of security of funding for the project officer position and lack of resources to capitalise on momentum to engender real societal change. In a recent presentation, the project manager identified the need for greater knowledge sharing at the European level. Inclusion on the Interreg Policy Learning Platform would help to address these challenges.
Pollinators are an element of biodiversity that people understand and relate to. Their role can be communicated as a clean and simple message. Since its publication, the AIPP has been promoted in this manner via more than 450 published articles, interviews, and other events. In 2019, this included:
-38 published newspaper articles
– 15 radio interviews
– 3 TV interviews
-37 additional articles (blogs, websites, newsletters, magazines)
– 22 presentations at events
– 9 presentations at conferences
– 10 Other (panel events/stands at 3rd party events, including Bloom in the Park. Electric Picnic, etc.)
Resulting from the AIPP, there has been good media coverage on how to make places pollinator-friendly and positive engagement through events. Additional funding would enhance the potential for even greater visibility.
When the Plan was first published in September 2015, it was supported by 69 governmental and non-governmental organisations. Across all sectors (farmers, councils, transport authorities, local communities, faith communities, businesses, schools, gardens), the number of organisations engaging with the Plan and taking actions to help pollinators continues to increase. According to the year 4 Progress Report, this figure had increased by over 55% to 108 (Dec. 2019). The number of companies who have signed up as business supporters of the AIPP has far exceeded the original target set in the 2015 Plan (230+). By raising awareness of the importance of pollinators in both the public and private sectors, opportunities for funding for pollinator related research have increased. As a result, there is now much better coordination of researchers at the national level and between universities and government departments. The “Actions for Pollinators” mapping system is an innovative spin-off from other work undertaken in the National Biodiversity Data Centre and adds further value to the framework at minimal cost.
As of May 2020, 24 local authorities island-wide had signed-up as formal partners. Regional policy explicitly supports the plan, including the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy for the Eastern and Midland Region, demonstrating potential for transferability to the local level through regional policy. At the national level, 3 government departments and multiple semi-state organisations are also formal partners. Key challenges include: 1) reluctance to change – planting regimes, pesticide use, mowing etc. Councils may agree in principal but this doesn’t necessarily feed through to external contractors. Furthermore, the public who disagree with new (less tidy) management are very vocal, thereby highlighting the need for continued awareness raising; 2) Adequate resourcing for implementation of the GP (funding and personnel).
The AIPP framework has been highly innovative in terms of the nature of the solutions/resources included and the scope of target users and partners. In addition to the plan itself, there is a Junior All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (published in English and Irish), guidelines for wide-ranging users, how-to-guides, signage templates and wide-ranging resources such as plant lists, posters, presentations and videos. There is also the “Actions for Pollinators” online mapping system. The innovative nature of the framework has been recognised in the EU Pollinator Initiative (2018) which has adopted the AIPP as the template for the development of pollinator strategies across the EU.
The AIPP was developed on a voluntary basis without funding. The full range of resources are publicly (and freely) available on the AIPP website (www.pollinators.ie), thereby facilitating the potential adoption, replication or adaptation at low cost and in a highly efficient manner. Since April 2016, a dedicated AIPP project officer position has been established in the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Subject to external funding, the role (when occupied) is focussed on developing full resources and support materials for all sectors, raising awareness of the Plan and supporting the partner organisations. In 2019, it was run as a job share between two people. Funding by SuperValu (a supermarket chain) was secured in late February 2020 for the remainder of the year (€55k p/a). Supervalu (who sponsor the Tidy Towns initiative) also fund a schools campaign – Save the Bees https://supervalu.ie/real-people/save-the-bees (launched 12th March 2020). In 2020, the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine provided a small budget to develop resources (€15,000), while 100+ partners fund their own actions. The financial resources required to implement a practice similar to the AIPP in other regions will therefore depend on level of implementation and the nature of partnership/s established in the region. Scope of implementation could range from direct adoption/translation of the AIPP and existing resources (low cost option) to adaptation/tailoring to different regional/ecosystem contexts, the establishment of an online mapping system similar to the ‘Actions for Pollinators’ platform or the appointment of dedicated staff.
Inspired by the AIPP, the Irish Heritage and Biodiversity Officer Network came together to sponsor a special pollinator award in the Tidy Towns competition, beginning in 2016. Over the last four years 162 different local communities have entered this award and made their local area more pollinator friendly. It shows how local communities can lead the way in addressing national (and global) issues within a structure like Tidy Towns. Run by An Taisce (the Irish Heritage Trust), a special pollinator award was also introduced into the Green Flag for Parks competition in 2017. In compiling the year 4 Progress Report, partner organisations who are not associated with a specific action in the AIPP (including businesses, 3rd level campuses, church representative bodies and other groups) were invited to provide a short update of their 2019 activities. Appendix B of the report includes multiple external and additional effects of the AIPP recorded by these organisations including organised programmes of planting and biodiversity improvement, awareness raising and the development of research and enterprise activities that align with the AIPP, among others (see https://pollinators.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/All-Ireland-Pollinator-Plan_progress-report-year-4.pdf).
A core tenet of the AIPP is the achievement of progress through the building of partnerships. As of May 2020, 24 local authorities island-wide had signed-up as formal partners, representing approximately 65% of local authorities in the Republic of Ireland (20 of 31) and about 36% of local authorities in Northern Ireland (4 of 11). In addition, 4 transport authorities and multiple charities, NGOs and community groups are partners. The number of companies who have signed up as business supporters of the AIPP also continues to rise and has now far exceeded the original target set in the 2015 Plan (230+). This progress has been possible through the support of ‘Bord Bia’ (Origin Green) and ‘Business in the Community’. An annual report outlining actions taken by each of the businesses supporters has also been published: https://pollinators.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/AIPP-Business-Supporters-Annual-Review-2019.pdf. On the basis of the GP, the AIPP team has successfully secured funding for a five-year European Innovation Partnership (EIP) project to test pollinator measures on farmland. This is being implemented with 40 farmers of different types in Co. Kildare (2019-2023), a county in the Eastern and Midland Region of Ireland.
Extra regional impact
One of the actions in the recent EU Pollinator Initiative (2018) is to encourage all member states to develop national pollinator strategies and the AIPP has been selected as the template for this. Having successfully informed pollinator strategies in three European jurisdictions (Scotland, Norway and the Netherlands), the AIPP team are currently working with the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) to develop the template and have agreed to add a toolkit section to the AIPP website in 2020 that will provide relevant resources to other EU member states.
With the launch of the AIPP in 2015, Ireland, North and South, joined a small number of countries in Europe who have developed a strategy to address pollinator decline and protect pollination services. The AIPP framework is an innovative, rich and accessible resource which facilitates positive steps by multiple users to protect pollinators and the ecosystem services they provide. According to the criteria set out in this assessment, the AIPP has proven itself to be of strategic relevance and highly effective with ongoing intra- and extra-regional impact with local, regional, national and international recognition and adoption.
Potential for learning or transfer
The AIPP framework is potentially interesting for other regions since it applies a bottom-up, non-threatening approach to address the degradation of European ecosystems and the service they provide as recognised by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. Pollination is one of the regulating services of ecosystem processes. Section 4.1 of the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe sets the 2020 milestone for public authorities and businesses to properly value natural capital and ecosystem services. The AIPP framework is an exemplary resource which can be easily transferred to other jurisdictions with a view to raising awareness of the economic, environmental and social value of the regulating services provided by pollinators and transferring good practice. The AIPP itself was initially developed with minimal resources and continues to operate without a permanent or full-time dedicated staff. Despite this, it has been identified and applied as an appropriate template for the development of pollinator strategies in the EU Pollinator Initiative (2018). Indeed, transfer has already taken place with the AIPP directly informing pollinator strategies published in three European jurisdictions as follows:
– Scotland – Scottish Government (2017) – All 4 NUTS 2 Regions
– Norway – National Government – 8 Ministries (2018) – All 7 NUTS 2 Regions
– The Netherlands – National Government and 35 initial partners (2018) – All 12 NUTS 2 Regions
All AIPP resources available at: https://pollinators.ie/