Pollinator Friendly wind farms - BEE part of the change

26 Apr 2021

Wind Energy Ireland and RenewableNI have collaborated with the National Biodiversity Centre’s All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to produce the latest in a series of pollinator-friendly management guidelines.

Our wind farm guidelines, which were just launched at our Annual Conference, have identified 7 key actions which can be implemented by wind farm operators to help Ireland’s pollinators, including our 98 wild bee species, one-third of which are currently threatened by extinction.

Pollinators need food, shelter, and safety; and fortunately, many of the actions we can take to help provide this are simple. They often involve ‘doing less’, with minor changes to existing management strategies, and with nature itself doing most of the hard work.

With around 400 wind farms across the island, a number which is expected to grow rapidly over the coming years, the wind industry can play a vital role in conserving our biodiversity and natural habitats if sites are managed in a pollinator-friendly way.

Download your copy of the guide to Pollinator-friendly management of Wind Farms.

  • Action 1 Protect what you have: Identify and protect existing areas on your sites that are already providing food and shelter for pollinators, e.g. native hedgerows, flowers, earth banks. Even areas along site access tracks, margins/embankments of turbine hardstands and around the substation can provide important pollinator-friendly habitats.

  • Action 2 Manage native flowering hedgerows for biodiversity: Flowering native hedgerows are a valuable source of food for pollinators and act as a wildlife corridor for movement across the countryside. Consider cutting less frequently to allow hedgerows to flower and produce fruit.

  • Action 3 Eliminate or reduce use of pesticides: Reducing or eliminating the use of herbicides will leave more wildflowers for pollinators to feed on. Consider whether vegetation removal is necessary or if plants can be left alone to grow undisturbed.

  • Action 4 Reduce mowing: Mowing removes vital food sources for pollinators, particularly between March and October. Consider whether mowing is necessary and try to time any necessary work outside of this key period.

  • Action 5 Provide nesting places for wild bees: Wild pollinators need safe places for shelter, such as the base of hedgerows; bare earth banks; crevices in stone, drilled wood and bee hotels. Providing a variety of safe nesting sites, kept free of pesticides, will help their populations to thrive.

  • Action 6 Raise awareness: Raise awareness in your local community, workplace and supply chain about the work you are doing to protect biodiversity. Share information and erect signage highlighting areas being managed for pollinators. Support and sponsor local biodiversity initiatives. Sign up to become a business supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan - see https://pollinators.ie for more information.

  • Action 7 Plan in advance: Seek opportunities during the design and/or detailed landscaping planning of a new wind farm to identify existing pollinator-friendly habitats, minimise disturbance, and incorporate new habitats that can provide food and shelter. Taking pollinator measures into account during the construction phase can allow you to maximise the retention of important habitat and achieve better quality and more rapid site restoration.

You can find detailed resources such as ‘how to’ guides, pollinator-friendly plant lists, signage templates, educational tools and more at https://pollinators.ie/resources/. 

Thanks to all members who contributed to the document and to Green Tech Skillnet who sponsored the design.