Community-based campaign Live Here Love Here is encouraging community groups and schools in rural areas across Northern Ireland to apply for a capital grant of up to £12,000 via the DAERA-funded Rural Community Pollinator Grants Scheme.
The scheme, which is open to applications until noon on Monday (October 11), is making £700,000 available in 2021-22 in the form of grants from £3,000 to £12,000 for community groups and schools.
Provided by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and administered by Live Here Live Here, the pilot scheme aims to cover 95 per cent of costs to community groups and schools wishing to establish, enhance or develop a local community pollinator garden.
A Rural Community Pollinator Garden is a shared space with pollinating plants, habitats, wildflowers, flowers, shrubs and trees and the grants support new initiatives aimed at protecting and providing for pollinators.
Applicants will be encouraged to increase pollinator-friendly land management techniques to increase the biodiversity value of an area by planting for pollinators, and to transform unused spaces into valued community spaces, adding habitats and greening-up grey areas.
The scheme will also encourage applicants to create a positive legacy within a rural community, to improve health and wellbeing and to aid biodiversity recovery by helping to improve the quality of community spaces.
Speaking about the fund, Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: “In Northern Ireland, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, some beetles, flies, wasps but most importantly bees are our pollinators. They visit flowers, collecting pollen and transferring it to help plants fruit and reproduce.
“They are absolutely central to our eco-system and its diversity. Our countryside, forests and gardens would look starkly different if our pollinators didn’t work so hard to help plants, trees and seeds reproduce and flourish. They also help to provide the habitats where you can find our wildlife.
“Pollinators are vital to our food production and our economy – crops and fruits rely on them to reproduce and grow. One in three bites of food we eat is pollinated by insects.”
The Minister continued: “Sadly pollinators are in decline and we need to take urgent action.
“That is why I am announcing the first ever Rural Community Pollinator Scheme to help improve the health of the pollinator population.
“This scheme is part of the Northern Ireland Centenary celebrations and will create a lasting legacy for rural communities whilst at the same time creating much needed habitat.
“It will also open up spaces for rural communities to enjoy and share together.
“I look forward to visiting some of these gardens in the future and I am sure they will be enjoyed by the whole community.
“The Covid pandemic showed us all that we need outdoor shared space in our rural towns and villages, in addition this scheme will create an educational opportunity for people young and old to learn about pollinators and the important role they play.”
Helen Tomb, Manager at Live Here Love Here, added: “We’re delighted to celebrate the launch of and support DAERA’s inaugural Rural Community Pollinator Grants scheme.
“At Live Here Love Here we are passionate about creating a healthier and greener Northern Ireland and pollination is a vital part of this as it plays a key role in regulating ecosystems that protect animal habitats and natural resources.
“We hope that the Pollinator Grants scheme will encourage rural environmental heroes in schools and communities across Northern Ireland to nurture their own local community pollinator garden, not only doing important work for biodiversity but also generating civic pride and enjoying the wellbeing benefits of the great outdoors.”
The Rural Community Pollinator Grants are open to volunteer groups, community groups, schools and third level education organisations, sports clubs, churches and not-for-profit organisations managing community spaces.
Collaborative applications between two or more of these categories are highly encouraged and the scheme is also open to groups that have previously received grants through Live Here Love Here.
Proposed projects must be located in a rural area and must intend to enhance the environmental management and quality of a local area by planting a variety of plants for pollinators, increase community access to biodiversity-rich sites, create a positive legacy within the community, increase civic pride and improve the health and wellbeing of communities and biodiversity value of an area by re-introducing native species.
The Rural Community Pollinator Grants Scheme is open for applications until noon on Monday, October 11.
n To apply visit: www.liveherelovehere.org