Vol­un­teer: work­ing for na­ture

Bum­ble­bee con­ser­va­tion, Corn­wall

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents -

Char­lotte Rankin on ‘BeeWalk­ing’ and pro­tect­ing ur­ban pol­li­na­tors

All over the world, de­voted in­di­vid­u­als are do­ing their bit by vol­un­teer­ing to get in­volved with wildlife. Jo Price meets a ‘BeeWalker’ who is pro­tect­ing our ur­ban pol­li­na­tors.

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hen Char­lotte Rankin heard that Buglife’s Ur­ban Buzz project was com­ing to Fal­mouth, she couldn’t wait to get in­volved in cre­at­ing pollinator-friendly habi­tats in her lo­cal area. “I was buzzing!” she ex­claims. “Prior to sow­ing ar­eas, I searched through re­cent records of lo­cal pol­li­na­tors with no­table con­ser­va­tion sta­tus and iden­ti­fied their main food plants, so they could be in­cor­po­rated into the wild­flower mixes.”

Through­out au­tumn and spring, Char­lotte is busy seed-sow­ing and plug-plant­ing with other lo­cal vol­un­teers to cre­ate vi­brant wild­flower mead­ows around Cor­nish towns. “I’m on a mis­sion, this sum­mer, to record and mon­i­tor the pollinator species vis­it­ing th­ese blooms,” she says. “Sub­mit­ting sight­ings of pol­li­na­tors is vi­tal for their con­ser­va­tion, be­cause we know where they can be found and how well they are far­ing.”

As a ‘BeeWalker’ for the Bum­ble­bee Con­ser­va­tion Trust, the con­ser­va­tion and ecol­ogy grad­u­ate reg­u­larly walks a tran­sect at her lo­cal reser­voir from March to Oc­to­ber, record­ing her bum­ble­bee sight­ings and sub­mit­ting them to the scheme. Last year, she recorded over 100 in­di­vid­u­als and seven dif­fer­ent species on her ‘BeeWalks’. “By be­com­ing a BeeWalker, when you walk your dog, run or go on a week­end stroll, you can con­trib­ute to bum­ble­bee con­ser­va­tion,” says the nat­u­ral­ist. “In my opin­ion, that is the best type of ex­er­cise!”

Char­lotte is also in­volved in her home town’s pollinator project, Pen­ryn Buzz, and has raised over £300 to cre­ate a pollinator-friendly flowerbed along a res­i­den­tial street. “This was once a dis­used space with noth­ing but two or­na­men­tal palm trees,” she says. “Now it pro­vides a lit­tle ur­ban haven for pol­li­na­tors, with a sea­sonal suc­ces­sion of nec­tar- and pollen-rich gar­den plants.”

By pro­vid­ing out­reach ma­te­ri­als to ed­u­cate and en­thuse the lo­cal com­mu­nity about pol­li­na­tors, in­clud­ing an ed­u­ca­tional book­let for adults and an ac­tiv­ity book­let for chil­dren, Char­lotte is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to take no­tice of the in­sects around them.

“Pol­li­na­tors, de­spite be­ing vi­tally im­por­tant and un­der threat, are of­ten among the more over­looked species of our nat­u­ral world, and I am act­ing to change this,” she says. “My work shows that we can help to con­serve in­ver­te­brates on our doorsteps.”

FIND OUT MORE Dis­cover Char­lotte’s BeeWalks by fol­low­ing her on Twit­ter: @bum­ble_be­ing

S Pol­li­na­tors are among the more over­looked species of our world. T

Char­lotte caught the ‘bum­ble bug’ at uni­ver­sity and is keen to spread her pas­sion to oth­ers.

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