Chosen plants get a scientific stamp of approval for bees and pollinators
A new campaign by the National Botanic Garden of Wales means that for the first time, gardeners are able to buy plants that are guaranteed to benefit bees and other pollinators.
The Saving Pollinators Assurance Scheme is backed by the garden’s cutting-edge scientific research team.
There are 23 participating growers and specialist nurseries signed up and using the new ‘Saving Pollinators’ logo. Organisers hope the concept could be rolled out to other parts of the UK.
‘Not much evidence of benefits’
Head of Science, Dr Natasha de Vere said: “There are so many labels out there in garden centres and other stores that advertise plants as being bee-friendly or pollinator-friendly when there is often not much evidence of their benefits.
“A team of scientists here at the Botanic Garden has been using DNA barcoding to investigate which plants honeybees, solitary bees, bumblebees and hoverflies visit. Our new Saving Pollinators Assurance Scheme harnesses this 17 years’ worth of research.”
The Assurance Scheme is being run by the Botanic Garden’s Growing the Future project (GTF).
GTF Science Officer, Dr Kevin McGinn said: “The use of peat compost is still widespread but its use is very environmentally damaging.
“Its extraction destroys precious habitats and allows vast amounts of carbon dioxide to be released, contributing to climate change. Peat also holds enormous amounts of water, so its extraction increases vulnerability to flooding.”
The drastic worldwide decline in vital pollinating insects is partly caused by the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides. Buying plants grown without synthetic insecticides will help prevent pollinator declines and also benefit insect-eating wildlife such as hedgehogs, sparrows and frogs.
‘Improve the odds for insects’
Says Dr de Vere: “This new campaign is all about highlighting what gardeners can do to improve the odds for insects but we need a huge awareness-raising campaign about current horticultural practices so consumers are empowered to do the right thing.
“Look out for our Saving Pollinator Assurance Scheme logo on plants in garden centres and specialist nurseries across Wales. It is the only pollinator plant logo in the marketplace that is backed up by science and the only one that assures buyers have made an environmentally sustainable choice.”
For more information, visit the National Botanic Garden of Wales Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire SA32 8HN, https://botanicgarden.wales.