B-Lines South of England

Swanscombe Marshes (c) Daniel Greenwood

The South of England is of national importance for bees and other pollinating insects due to the unique conditions resulting from a combination of a favourable climate and great diversity of high quality habitats like coastal cliffs, sand dunes, wildflower grasslands, heathland and moorland, expanses of chalk downland, lowland heathland, coastal and floodplain marshes and important ex-industrial (brownfield) habitats. Pollinators are extremely valuable to farmers due to the region’s major fruit-growing and arable areas. Whilst almost a third of London is open space and 14% private gardens meaning even in the capital there is great scope for B-lines.

South West B-Lines

The region is home to nationally rare and threatened bees, and for some species, the South of England supports a national stronghold or the last known population in the UK including the Brown-banded carder bee (Bombus humilis), Long-horned bee (Eucera longicornis), Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum), Potter Flower Bee (Anthophora retusa) and Phantom Hoverfly (Doros profuges).

Special areas for our threatened pollinators include Bodmin Moor, the North Cornish coast, and the Lizard Peninsular (Cornwall); the South Devon coast, Dartmoor and Exmoor (Devon); the Dorset heaths and chalk grasslands; the Forest of Dean and parts of the Severn River valley (Gloucestershire); the Somerset Levels and Mendip Hills (Somerset); Salisbury Plain (Wiltshire), the South Downs National Park, the Kent Downs, Surrey Heaths, the Thames marshes and Dungeness coast, the New Forest and the Chilterns.

There is increasing evidence that urban habitats with their mosaics of gardens, allotments, transport corridors, waterways, parks and amenity spaces capital can be just as important for pollinators as the countryside. London with it high percentage of green space provides amazing opportunities to benefit pollinators, through the provision of new or enhanced habitat. The city’s parks, gardens and wildlife sites all play an important role in helping pollinators and other wildlife, along with other areas such as brownfield sites, school grounds, road verges, allotments and railway embankments. There are already many pollinators in London, including both common and rare species. In fact over 370 insect species have been recorded in London which are important at a national or local level.

Organisation and councils across London are already taking action for pollinators and a report London’s Pollinators – Creating a buzz for the capital was developed in 2014. Several pollinator strategies have also been developed including The Royal Parks Pollinator Strategy.

The ‘Making a B-Line for London’ partnership is planning to develop B-Lines across London, increasing the diversity and abundance of pollinating insects across its green spaces and gardens. The Partnership also aims to raise awareness of the benefits of pollinators and encourage everyone to play their part in conserving these important insects.

But these important habitats are diminishing in size, and becoming increasingly isolated.  Our B-Lines projects in the South West will expand and reconnect wildflower-rich sites across the region, boosting the numbers of pollinating insects in our countryside and helping other wildlife such as bats.

Our ‘Landscapes for Wild Pollinators and Farm Wildlife Project’ helped expand and reconnect wildflower-rich sites across Sussex and Kent, boosting the numbers of pollinating insects in our countryside and helping other wildlife such as bats and farmland birds. However much more action is needed on the ground to restore and create valuable habitats and we need more farmers, landowners and organisations to get involved.

The West of England B-Lines Project is a partnership between Buglife and Avon Wildlife Trust, and will create a network of B-Lines linking wildflower-rich areas across the West of England from the west to the east, and from the north to the south, linking the Cotswolds with the Mendips, cities to the countryside, and the coast to the hills.

The South Devon B-Lines Project is a partnership between Buglife and South Devon Area AONB, and will create a network of B-Lines linking wildflower-rich areas across South Devon from the west to the east, and from the north to the south, linking Dartmoor to the coast, and linking our towns and urban areas to the countryside.

Everyone who lives, works, owns land or goes to school on a B-Line can help, even if only in a small way.

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