We’re buzzing about this new project

We are excited to be part of the Get Cumbria Buzzing project which the Cumbria Wildlife Trust has just announced.

Get Cumbria Buzzing in North West Cumbria aims to get parks, school grounds and other green spaces around Workington, Whitehaven and Maryport buzzing with bees and pollinators thanks to £912,800 funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The ground-breaking project will see Cumbria Local Nature Partnership work with Highways England and Cumbria Wildlife Trust to get local people buzzing with activity to boost numbers of bumblebees and other wild pollinators and halt their decline.

Britain is home to an amazing variety bumblebees, hoverflies, solitary bees, butterflies and moths but their homes and food sources are under threat. Modern agriculture and increased urbanisation of towns and villages is seeing a major loss of habitats on which pollinators depend. Amazingly, they help to provide one third of the food we eat, are a natural pest control, and feed much of our wildlife while being responsible for a wide diversity of plants worldwide. Just 1 to 2% of flower-rich habitat in a landscape, or even a garden or park, is enough to have a significant impact on populations of wild bumblebees.

This three-year project will create, restore, and enhance 115 hectares of pollinator friendly habitat at 62 sites in North West Cumbria by connecting and restoring flower-rich habitats along ecological networks known as B-Lines. The project is dependent on volunteers for its success and opportunities for people to make a buzz include everything from gardening workshops to themed arts and crafts events, pollinator training courses to conservation days, educational workshops linked to the curriculum and many many more.

David Renwick, Area Director for the North, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“These two projects really are the bees knees for Cumbria, particularly as we’ve prioritised nature for the next five years. Both will see vital work undertaken through powerful partnerships with biodiversity organisations and local people – ensuring that important wildlife in decline is put back on our map thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.”

Ian Convery, Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Cumbria and Co-Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Rewilding Task Force, said:

“Community involvement is vital, as it will not only benefit individual species, but also acts as a catalyst for engaging communities in the wider environment with positive outcomes for biodiversity, the local economy and wellbeing. This is highlighted in the government’s 25 year Environment Plan as a key action to reverse the ongoing decline in biodiversity. We are looking forward to working with our community partners, alongside project partners to bring this exciting and transformative project to life.”

Tanya St.Pierre, Get Cumbria Buzzing Project Manager, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted! This funding allows us to create much-needed pollinator-friendly havens and wildflower highways, providing a lifeline for our bumblebees, butterflies, hoverflies and other pollinating insects. By transforming green spaces and working closely with communities, we aim to get Cumbria buzzing again. Everyone can help – please get in touch! 

The project wouldn’t be possible without the support and generosity of our partners and additional funders including Allerdale Borough Council, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Copeland Borough Council, Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre, Cumbria Community Foundation, Cumbria Waste Management Environment Trust, Florence Arts Centre, Highways England, National Trust, Solway Coast AONB and Workington Nature Partnership.”

Dion Auriac, Project Manager at Highways England, said:

“Our roads connect communities across England and we’re committed to making sure our work supports the local economy and environment. That’s why we’re pledging £860,000 from our environment designated fund to the Get Cumbria Buzzing scheme to trial an innovative approach to managing verges on the A66 and A595 in Cumbria. We’ll be changing our grass-cutting and roadside maintenance systems to create habitats that provide food, shelter and nesting sites to help bees and other wildlife thrive alongside Cumbria’s major roads.”

The birds are back in town

Seabirds nesting on the cliffs at St Bees Head, Whitehaven

The birds at St Bees are back on the cliffs again for the summer, and we need your help once again to record whether they’re being disturbed.

The Colourful Coast Partnership is working with the RSPB, Natural England and Royal Yachting Association to recruit volunteers to take a walk up onto St Bees Head and observe the colonies for any disturbance, whether it comes from the air, the land or the sea.

Dave Blackledge, RSPB site manager, said ‘The bird numbers are increasing every year, which is great, but we need to understand if the birds are getting disturbed while they’re on the cliffs or on the water as this can affect their ability to raise healthy chicks or fish for food. We know that boats and climbers can sometimes unintentionally disturb the birds but we also want to know if there’s anything else, like birds of prey or drones, which could be having an effect’

Volunteers will be asked to go out once a fortnight and observe the seabirds from certain points along St Bees Head throughout the summer months, recording any interesting sightings. It’s not just skilled bird watchers who can get involved.   Sophie Badrick from the Colourful Coast Partnership says ‘Anyone who’s got a pair of binoculars and is happy to walk along the headland spending a few hours every fortnight viewing the birds and making notes can get involved.  We’ll be running a few training sessions in a couple of weeks to get volunteers up to speed and then it’s down to each individual to decide how often and when to go out surveying’.

The records will be collected by Natural England who can assess the levels of disturbance, whether this is an issue at the site and what kinds of activities are causing the issues. This will then allow Natural England working alongside the other Colourful Coast partners to focus on raising awareness to try and reduce the impacts of recreational activities on the breeding seabirds at St Bees Head so that the birds can continue to thrive.

Anyone who wants to get involved or would like more information should email Sophie.badrick@nationaltrust.org.uk