This week, as part of National Pollinator Week, the Army is highlighting just some of the work it is doing to contribute to the environment, to sustainability, and to improvement of pollinator numbers.
In addition to projects with partners, such as ‘no mow’ areas, gardens and wildflower areas have sprung up around the Army’s UK sites.
Westdown Camp on Salisbury Plain was the location for the first ‘no-mow’ trial on the Defence Training Estate and is specifically referenced in the MOD’s Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach. The purpose of the trial was to help reverse the trend in declining bee abundance by encouraging more pollinators in line with the Government's National Pollinator Strategy.
The ‘no mow’ project has been followed by wildflower or ‘no mow’ areas such as Warcop Camp near Catterick, Ballykinler in Northern Ireland, and Sennybridge Camp in Wales. In addition, a rooftop garden has been created at Wellington Barracks, in the heart of London.
The garden was set up by Corporal Aaron Larkin and the families living in the Barracks, providing an outdoor space and giving access to nature on their doorstep.
The garden attracts a wide variety of pollinating insects - many different species of bee, including rarer solitary and leafcutter bees as well as the more usual bumble bees and European honeybees. Dragonflies have also been spotted, owing to the lake in St James’s Park.
Lance Sergeant Ian Shepherd, from the Grenadier Guards Band, and the Sergeant’s Mess gardener, said:
“Central London might seem an unlikely location for insects to thrive, but the countryside is largely a patchwork of arable land comprising acres of monoculture crops offering little nutrition or habitat to these creatures, not to mention the use of pesticides. The city has more to offer them!”
Lieutenant General (Retired) Richard Nugee, the MOD’s Non-Executive Director for Climate Change and Sustainability said: “The Wellington Barracks garden is a great example of Defence encouraging biodiversity on all its sites and they demonstrate the power of the individual to undertake initiatives such as these.
"The MOD’s new interim Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach promotes the benefits of initiatives such as these on Defence establishments big and small and the innovative use of space to create a garden on the roof of Wellington Barracks show that creating a biodiverse habitat is possible even in an urban setting.”
Pollinator week also marks 100 days until the UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, on 31 October – 12 November 2021.
The COP26 summit will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
In March this year, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) issued the Climate Change and Sustainability Strategic Approach, which sets out the threats posed by climate change and how Defence must work to mitigate its impact through three ambitions; adaptation and resilience, sustainability and net zero, and global leadership.