Call to restore pollinating insects21st October, 2013 by Emma Williams
One of Britain’s leading entomologists has called for golf clubs to take a lead in restoring pollinating insects to the British countryside.
The call comes as a rare bumblebee has been discovered on a Lincolnshire golf course.
Pollinating insects, especially bees, play a vital role in the world’s ecosystem, particularly for food consumed by humans. It is thought that at least one third of all human food has come about following pollination by an animal. However, globally, pollinating insects have been in decline over the last 20 years.
Entomologist and ecologist Mike Edwards has now catalogued the diversity of insect species present on a number of British golf courses and identified the habitat potential to increase both the numbers and range of insect species.
He said that while some individual golf clubs already have areas of outstanding interest for wildlife, there remains a large number where the potential to make a real contribution had yet to be realised.
“Many of the older clubs have areas that reflect the sort of countryside that was present before modern agricultural production became established.
“All too often, however, these areas have sadly been unmanaged and are of limited ecological value,” he said.
“Providing expertise and support in restoring such flower-rich grasslands can make a major contribution to the conservation of our flora and fauna.”
He added that the discovery of bombus ruderatus at Rutland County Golf Club, which had deployed a programme called Syngenta Operation Pollinator, in which bee-friendly habitat is created on farmland, was an especially exciting discovery since the species was considered on the verge of extinction just a few years ago – with no records of the bumblebee in the area since 1994.
“It is a classic case of when you put the habitat back, bumblebees and other pollinating insects are given the chance to recover,” he said. “Operation Pollinator provides the essential food, shelter and breeding sites to help a wide array of insect species through difficult times.”
Rutland County Golf Club head greenkeeper, Jamie Goddard, added that the colour and wildlife in the club’s wildflower areas enhance the whole experience of playing the course for golfers, as well as providing a valuable habitat for the pollinating insects.
“The fact that we already have the incredible find of the rare bombus ruderatus on the course highlights the ecological value of golf courses. Now we can actively manage areas to make them even more attractive for bumblebees and other pollinators, alongside a great course for players, makes it even more exciting,” he said.
The club has instigated a three-year plan for the establishment of dedicated wildflower habitats and management of rough.
Mike Edwards added that the creation of wildflower habitats could initiate additional benefits for golf clubs, through improved playability of rough, better visual appearance of the course and innovative marketing opportunities to attract new players.
“Increasing the floral diversity has been shown time and time again to result in more insects and a greater diversity of species; golf courses will be no different,” he advised.
“This is the start of a very important journey for golf courses.”