Hazlemere Parish Council/Buckinghamshire Unitary Council: BEE SQUARED

In Hazlemere, the council and residents are determined to stop the decline of pollinators and help their wonderful natural friends. Bees are vital to both pollinate the food we need to survive and pollinate many of the trees and flowers that provide habitats for wildlife.


Together Hazelmere Parish and Buckinghamshire Unitary councils are helping bees and other pollinators which have massively declined over the past 50 years through the creation of a massive pollinator corridor.

Every household in the area received enough wildflower seeds for 1M2 of wildflowers. Instruction leaflets were also provided and were multi-functional as they could also be used as a poster to be displayed in the windows of every participating household. The seeds were delivered by dozens of volunteers and the project has proved wildly successful in engaging residents, informing them on the plight of pollinators and creating a successful local response. 

The challenge

In February 2020 Hazlemere Parish Council declared a climate emergency, set a net zero 2030 target, and set up a working party to consist of local residents and Parish Councillors. 

The council is helping bees and other pollinators which have massively declined over the past 50 years through the BEE SQUARED project."

In Hazlemere, the council and residents are determined to stop the decline of pollinators and help their wonderful natural friends. Bees are vital to both pollinate the food we need to survive and pollinate many of the trees and flowers that provide habitats for wildlife.

There are too many monoculture areas, such as lawns and single crop agricultural fields, and too many built up areas of concrete and asphalt which makes it impossible for pollinators to move between the areas where they are needed. We need to introduce corridors with pollinator-friendly plants at short regular intervals throughout the area, which is why we launched a brand new community project, ‘BEE SQUARED’ . 

Challenges of this project included:

  • the financial cost of seeds
  • distribution of seeds to residents
  • printing costs and distribution of the instruction leaflets
  • issue if this should be paid from the precept.

There was also a challenge of effective community engagement to get the local community behind this project and to see the benefits of pollinators.

The solution

To reduce the financial burden of buying seeds for all residents, costs were cut by buying seeds in bulk and repackaging ourselves in house. 

Also, the nearby Wycombe area joined us with the scheme, improving the projects scale with resultant drop in costs.

The Parish Council was also able to cut costs by using all volunteers both for packing seed packets and deliveries to residents. The volunteer programme also drove word of mouth leading to an increase in effective community engagement.

An online map was developed to show people who have joined the scheme which created more interaction and visibility with the project - people visited the website or scanned a QR code to view the locations.

Sponsorship was super easily raised from local companies, so no Parish Council monies were used, making the project financially sustainable for the council to run. 

The impact

It is difficult to know the effect on the pollinators yet as the seeds are still growing and the weather has been against us this year. Watch this space!

The community loves the scheme, we have had a massive number of Facebook positive comments and seen posters in many many windows in houses. Many people in adjoining communities have also been asking for seeds and asking to join the programme, and also other local communities are asking how to copy us to run a similar programme.

In addition, this was the best way to promote the Parish Council's Climate Emergency Declaration and the Climate Working Party. This created interest in all the council’s climate change activities and has led to more volunteers coming forward on other projects. It also was the highest profile.

Finally this project will likely be copied now in two to three Buckinghamshire Community Board areas which would increase the reach by 40-50 times and hopefully by Buckinghamshire overall - watch this second space!

Lessons learned

At times it can be tough to manage so many volunteers, but this is vital to create community engagement and resident involvement. 
Going forward, we will monitor deliveries road by road better. A different model was used in adjoining areas which copied us, and it found that the door to door delivery method is the most successful.

This has proven to be a fantastic method to help promote other climate emergency projects and raise awareness of the issue locally. 

Contact

Cllr Ed Gemmell, ed@gemmell.info