Heritage Lottery Fund supports nationwide project

Schools to help save dwindling pollinator populations

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced support for the UK-wide biodiversity project Polli:Nation, a programme which helps schools to protect the future of our seriously dwindling pollinating insect population.

A grant of £1.4million has now been confirmed by HLF following the successful development of the project. The award comes after the publication of a report by the Natural Capital Committee that showed the decline in our natural environment is harmful to the economy.

‘Free’ pollination by bees and other insects has been valued at £430m to UK agriculture each year and is crucial to the survival of our countryside, yet pollinating insects are in severe decline. One of the main reasons why is thought to be the loss of natural and semi-natural habitats.

The Polli:Nation project will engage pupils, teachers and volunteers in 260 schools across the UK to transform school grounds and local community spaces into pollinator-friendly habitats. Children will learn all about pollinators and make changes to their local environments to improve opportunities for these precious insects.

Launching the first UK-wide pollinator survey, Polli:Nation aims to equip children and local communities with the tools and skills to help scientists build a picture of the state and potential of habitats for our pollinators.

‘Schools are at the heart of our communities and we hope through the Polli:Nation survey that children and adults alike will be inspired to make the changes needed to help our pollinating insects,’ says Juno Hollyhock, executive director of Learning through Landscapes.

‘We believe that this important and inspiring project will help children and young people to learn about the development of their natural environments, both in and out of their school grounds, teaching them that the changes we make to our surroundings can have a profound effect on critical issues such as our deteriorating habitats.’

Drew Bennellick, HLF’s head of landscape and natural heritage, says that the huge contribution pollinators make to the country often goes unacknowledged, but that recent research has shown that they not only help our environment flourish but also have a real economic impact. ‘We need to do all we can to halt the decline in pollinator habitats and schools can play a crucial role in turning the tide. The project reaches an impressive 260 schools nationwide giving it the potential to make a real difference. But it will also equip children with the skills and knowledge to connect to nature, something which HLF sees as invaluable if we are to protect our pollinators for the future.’
 
Learning through Landscapes has developed the Polli:Nation project along with other sector partners including The Field Studies Council, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, OPAL Imperial College London, Stirling University, Bumblebee Conservation and The Conservation Volunteers.

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