An initiative designed to turn Monmouthshire into a friendlier place for bees and other pollinating insects is being expanded this summer.
Working with Bee Friendly Monmouthshire and local community councils, Monmouthshire County Council has planted 37.3 hectares of seeds, including annuals and perennials, with yellow rattle, throughout the county. Last year the council planted 28.8 hectares.
Many of the areas that were established in spring 2014 are flowering again this year because they are perennials.
Work to prepare the ground for planting in new locations began in March, with the first flowers expected in the next few weeks.
The cabinet member for community development, Councillor Phil Hobson, said: “This is an invaluable initiative that will create waves of beautiful, vibrant flowers throughout Monmouthshire.
“Pollinators, including bees, wasps, butterflies, hoverflies and moths, are an essential part of our habitat. Without them we would not be able to grow food. They play a pivotal role in food production and have an estimated value of about £430million per year to the UK crop market. In fact, the value of honey produced in Wales alone is thought to be about £2million per year.
“This initiative will help safeguard this, by increasing the population of pollinating insects and improving the wider environment. We are creating sustainable environments in which insects can survive.”
Declining populations of pollinators have become a growing concern across the world and Welsh Government sees increasing their numbers in Wales as a priority.
To help achieve this, local community councils have bought flower seeds for the county council to plant. Additional areas of flowers will soon be blooming at sites across the borough, including Dixton roundabout, the Hardwick verges, Raglan roundabout and Raglan village.
In addition to planting seeds, Monmouthshire council has reduced the frequency with which it cuts certain areas of grassland that are not already being used for sport or other activities, to encourage flowering species to grow. This in addition to creating a more biodiverse county will help the council save £30,000 a year.
The total hectare of areas of open space and highway verge that had reduced cutting frequencies applied to them equate to 341.5 hectares or (341,509 mtr2). The total achieved in 2014 was 219 hectares.
David Staker, from Bee Friendly Monmouthshire, said: “Not only will this project create beautiful stretches of colour throughout the county, it will help create new habitats for pollinating insects. This in turn will help increase their numbers throughout the county, while adding to the area’s natural beauty.
“It’s a brilliant project, an essential project, and I’m delighted that the community councils and Monmouthshire County Council have come on board to help.”
Councillor Hobson added: “Development doesn’t need to be at the expensive of nature and projects such as this are key in ensuring our long-term sustainability. We were bowled over with the positive feedback that we received regarding the flowers last year, with hundreds of residents writing to us or sending us pictures.
“This year, we want to get everyone involved, whether they are residents, workers or visitors to the borough. Capture your own scenes of beautiful Monmouthshire this summer and tweet them using #beefriendlyMon, upload them to the council’s Facebook account and post them on Instragram.”