New meadows causing a buzz in the city

A number of new flower meadows have been planted across the city, in an effort to see how urban areas can be made more pollinator friendly to insects.

Undertaken in partnership by Leeds City Council and Leeds University, this work forms part of the ‘The Urban Pollinators Project’, which is the first citywide survey of its kind to assess the role of all urban habitats. This research follows a significant drop in the number of pollinating insect numbers across the UK.

Leeds is one of four cities to be included in the study, and 15 suitable locations in parks and alongside roadside verges have been identified over the past three years as the home for flower meadows.

Maintained by the council’s parks and countryside team, scientists over the summer have surveyed the insects visiting the flower meadows, and will publish their results at a conference set to be held next year.

These findings will be invaluable in informing land managers and garden owners about the best species of flowers to plant in order to help make urban areas more attractive to pollinators.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the environment said:

"I am proud that Leeds City Council is playing such an active role in looking at how we can make our urban environment more pollinator friendly through the planting and maintaining of new flower meadows across the city.

"These vitally important little insects play such an essential role in ensuring that so many of our staple foods, such as potatoes, beans, cabbages and fruit continue to make it on to our dinner plates. It is therefore vital that work like this is undertaken to see how best the current decline in pollinating insect numbers can be addressed.

"Leeds is one of four cities to be included in this project, and it will be very interesting to read the results of this study when they are shared next year.”

Notes to editors:

A range of insects play a key part in the pollination process including; domestic honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths and even beetles.

This project is part of a three-year £1.3m project, which involves scientists from four UK universities -Bristol, Reading, Leeds and Edinburgh. Now in its final year, all four cities are participating in the study.

A recent report, called “The State of Nature”, which was published in May this year and launched by David Attenborough, highlighted the steep decline across a swathe of the UK’s biodiversity.

Of the 3 148 species of native wildlife assessed by scientists, 60% was found to be declining in terms of population numbers and distribution.

Of these, insect numbers are amongst those falling, particularly for those which are depended on to pollinate 80% of the food crops grown in the UK, as well as the plants in gardens and the wildflowers in the countryside.

It has been calculated by the University of Reading that pollinating insects are worth £510 million to the agricultural economy every year in terms of the role they perform in ensuring food crops are pollinated.

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk