X-Polli:Nation, led by the Open Air Laboratories at Imperial College London, has been awarded funding from the National Geographic Society to get our communities buzzing. The new project builds on the success of the award-winning Polli:Nation project, as well as the innovative Planting for Pollinators tool. Schools from the UK and Italy will be learning about the importance of pollinators, recording the abundance of these important species, and working with their local communities to create friendly habitats for these vital insect populations.
Students and teachers from St Alban’s School in Hampshire, are working in partnership with the Open University, University of Aberdeen, the Maremma Natural History Museum and UK charity Learning through Landscapes to share (or ‘cross-pollinate’) ideas to enthuse students about environmental science, improve digital conservation tools, enhance data quality for scientists and support conservation objectives for pollinators not only in the UK, but now in Europe.
Alys Fowler, journalist and TV presenter said: “X-Polli:Nation is a great way to find out about and protect the nature right on your doorstep. Pollinated crops are fundamental for our diet and in recent years we have seen a worrying crash of pollinator populations, the so-called ‘Insectageddon’. One of the main causes of this is the loss of habitat. Therefore, this project which not only records insects but creates more feeding and nesting opportunities, is genius. Best of all, resources are free and available to download right now, so you don’t have any excuses not to get involved!”
Alys with the OPAL Director, David. She is urging young people across the UK and Italy to create pollinator-friendly areas where they live and study through the X-Polli:Nation project
X-Polli:Nation lead, Dr Poppy Lakeman Fraser said: “We are very excited to be launching this project that listens to students to find out how to improve citizen science tools and approaches so that they can learn about, record and protect pollinators. The recent climate marches inspired by Greta Thunberg indicate how passionately young people feel about how environmental issues will impact their futures. We want to provide a platform to support students to take direct action on human-induced changes to the natural world. We would love everyone to get involved, not just the schools registered on the project. Why not try your hand at recording pollinators in your green space with the Polli:Nation Survey, improving your identification skills with BeeWatch, or pledge to plant a small patch of food plants on your windowsill or garden with Polli:Promise?”
A special event is being held in March at St Alban’s School in Havant to mark the start of the year-long project, where students are planting pollinator-friendly seeds and are advising technologists about what they think would make a good digital nature identification tool.
Miss Julie Newman, lead educator on the programme said: "Pupils from our environment club, the Hive, developed Polli:Promise and our students are very excited to be involved in the next stage of the project. Taking part in real-world science and conservation brings our STEM curriculum to life and gives students and teachers the knowledge and skills to support pollinators. Pollinators need our help but we also need pollinators; they are vital for our ecosystems, contribute significantly to the economy and without them, our diet would be very limited. Being part of X-Polli:Nation will give pupils the opportunity to be in the steering seat, developing the confidence to advise experts about making tools suitable for young minds. Together, pupils will be deciding on how and where to plant wildflower meadows and convincing our local community to protect pollinators. Let's get started!"
All existing resources can be found at www.opalexplorenature.org/xpollination and there will be new ones appearing throughout the year. You can follow the project at #XPolli.