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The launch event of Bee the Change was a huge success. The site at Pradannack Downs on the Lizard Peninsula was buzzing over the recent bank holiday. Members of the drug and alcohol treatment support group, UFO, all pitched in to make the long weekend one to remember.
The first order of business for UFO and Goodisplanetearth members was to clear a large section of one of the fields on the site, so that there was enough room to pitch their tents for the weekend’s campout. It was hard going. But after a well earned tea break, tents went up and the event started to hit its stride.
The next job was to start clearing a section of roadway, to create an access to the large field at the rear of the land that will eventually be used for permaculture. Front runners in the clearance team set about removing some large gorse bushes that had taken root among the rubbish. Behind them, a group cleared ground-level rubbish. The site has been fly-tipped on for a great many years (evidenced by the 1970s vacuum cleaner and typewriter we found).
Among the appliances removed, three fridges were pulled out and all gradually filled with broken glass fragments that were painstakingly removed by hand. Asbestos was found and carefully removed, as well as all manner of other weird and less than wonderful rubbish.
While trash was in abundance, we’re saddened to report that what was missing was the crush of creepy crawlies you’d expect to find when digging through the undergrowth. It wasn’t all bad news though. We were lucky enough to see an adder sunning itself on one of the paths that we’d created prior to the event. It was over a foot long and had a beautiful diamond pattern on its back. It was particularly nice to see, as just last month the Daily Mail reported: “Scientists say Britain's only poisonous snake is in more urgent need of help than any other reptile or amphibian species in the UK.” The article went on to say that adders are rapidly declining in numbers and the species is already extinct in some counties, including Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire, primarily due to the extensive damage being done to hibernation sites, such as rabbit holes and tree roots.
Goodisplanetearth was lucky enough to also have a local herpetologist, Alan Lilley, visit the site. He pointed out a frog species that is also suffering from declining populations, yet seemed to be thriving in one of the many onsite pools. And although we haven’t been lucky enough to spot it yet, we also enjoyed listening to the distinctive call of a local cuckoo. This was a real treat, as their numbers are said to have fallen by 65% since the early 1980s. This is just the beginning – we plan to carry out a critical study of the flora and fauna in the near future, which will include a detailed species count.
Another bonus of the event was the attendance of PhD researcher, Tom Moseley, who will be helping us collate the available research on declining bee populations to support our ongoing lobbying of UK Government to get neonictinoid pesticides off shelves. We were also inundated with offers of time from highly skilled landscapers, builders and bee keepers. We have even had not one but two offers of land that we could use for further development of the bee sanctuary. Plans for the future include working with the local colleges and universities on research projects and other developments.
We’ve been grateful to everyone who has already donated their time – and to those who plan to come along in the future. All in all, it’s very exciting here at Bee the Change! If you’d like to get involved in the project or volunteer at the service, please get in touch with Goodisplanetearth chairman, Malcolm Higginbottom, on 07429399432.
Cornwall’s first bee sanctuary is now under development. Work has begun to establish the Bee the Change bee sanctuary at Pradannack Downs on the Lizard Peninsula. The sanctuary is the brainchild of Malcolm N. Higgingbottom, chairman of GoodIsPlanetEarth, and will soon be home to up to five million bees and 100 hives.
GoodIsPlanetEarth has been working to acquire land to house the bee sanctuary for the past eight years and is thrilled with the Pradannack site. Malcolm says: “Although it has been fly-tipped on for decades, work has already started on the clean-up operation and in the absence of development, gorse, heather and wild flowers have flourished. It’s a paradise for bees! Local growers will no doubt see huge benefit when we introduce such a vast number of pollinators to the area.
“It’s been a long road to get here, but now we have the land, it’s all systems go! I’ve been a bee keeper for many years and am appalled at the global reduction in their populations. We’re finally in a position to put something back. The dream is to now build an eco-friendly centre that’s not only a sanctuary for bees and other wildlife, but also for an educational hub for everything related to sustainable living. We’ll offer a range of resources for those who want to learn more about how to lessen their impact on our wonderful planet.”
As the centre is developed, there are various courses that will be offered on topics including bee keeping, permaculture and sustainable energy ideas to use at home. The ethos is environmental awareness, sustainability and accountability.
Of course one of the most critical barriers to realising the dream is securing the necessary funding. But the charity has already submitted several grant applications which, if successful, will provide much needed resources to develop the centre. At the time of printing, they are also growing a base of volunteers to help develop the site.
GoodIsPlanetEarth works with several disadvantaged groups that form the basis of its volunteer pool. It has links with local body UFO, a group allied to the UK’s primary drug and alcohol treatment service provider, Addaction. UFO members are in sobriety and seeking a new way of life. They are regularly invited to the property and have been helping clear the land and set up spaces where the bee hives will be sited. Plans are also in development to begin a volunteer programme for tagged offenders. The rationale is to give members of vulnerable groups a new purpose through involvement in a project that fosters a sense of belonging, a connection to their local environment and a sense of purpose that adds to their reasons to stay on track.
The charity is currently seeking funding to erect two buildings that would be used for educational purposes on the land. If you would like to offer a donation to this worthwhile programme, please follow the link on this page …or if you’re keen to come along and volunteer, contact Malcolm on 07429399432.
GoodIsPlanetEarth is a leading global campaigner for the protection of bees. The issue has the support of EU Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg, who this month said that our bees are: "vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22bn euros (£18.5bn; $29bn) annually to European agriculture.” GoodIsPlanetEarth was one of a select number of bodies that submitted a paper to the Environmental Audit Committee – Pollinators and Pesticides, which, according to the Independent newspaper, “…gave the European Commission the support it needed to push through an EU-wide ban on using three neonicotinoids on crops attractive to bees.”
GoodIsPlanetEarth has nearly 200,000 members worldwide and is growing at an exponential rate.