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Byron Shire
July 15, 2024

Butterfly and bee highways created by local schools

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Planting native species at Dunoon Public School. Photo supplied

Northern Rivers students have created a ‘B&B Highway’ for bees, birds, and butterflies to support threatened pollinators in the region.

Working with with Albert Park Public School, Kadina High School, Lismore High School, Mullumbimby High School, Dunoon Public School, St Carthage’s Primary School Lismore and the Goonellabah Tucki Landcare group the PlantingSeeds project along with students and volunteers planted 1,800 new native plants, installed four native stingless beehives and 20 nesting boxes.

Planting native species in the Lismore High School school garden. Photo supplied

The PlantingSeeds project is working across three states, NSW, Victoria and Queensland to educate young people on how to support native pollinators and that remind everyone that they can get on board as well. 

‘If you are planting on the outskirts of town and in regional areas you are really supporting those endangered native pollinators like bees, bats and birds that are so important,’ explained Dr Judy Friedlander, founder of PlantingSeeds project.

‘There are nearly 2,000 native bee species and many are pollinators of agricultural crops. For example, there is the native stingless bee (Tetragonula carbonaria) which is a native honey bee endemic to Australia. It is a significant species economically as they are important pollinators of many crops such as macadamias, mangoes and watermelons. It t is not just the European bee that pollinates, we need to support our native bees, bat, and birds because they play an important roles in our agricultural crops.’ 

The PlantingSeeds project has worked with schools across the region planting native plants in their school gardens that support native pollinators this in turn creates a ‘highway’ of pollinator plants for bees, butterflies and bats to flit along both within the schools and between the schools. 

Installing a native beehive at Albert Park Public School. Photo supplied

‘We walk the talk,’ said Dr Friedlander. 

‘It is about planting native plants that support threatened pollinators. We create regenerative corridors by linking up school gardens and habitats.’

Five year old Ellio from Dunoon Public School told the project, ‘You came to our school and I had a great time planting shrubs and making blue-banded bee homes. I had the best day in my whole life.’ 

‘Blue-banded beed forage on native flowers and are really important for biodiversity and  they pollinate things like tomatoes, eggplants, chilli peppers, and capsicums,’ said Dr Friedlander.

‘Recent environmental events like the fires and floods have seriously impacted the numbers of native pollinators.  What we are teaching is that what you do in your own yard can have a direct impact in supporting these birds, butterflies, native bees and bats.’

The project was supported by a grant from the QBE Foundation and Jon Fox, QBE Foundation Co-Chair said, ‘As one of QBE’s grant recipients, PlantingSeeds has shown commitment and innovation in addressing climate challenges and empowering communities. It is inspiring to witness their impact and be part of their journey.’

Over 400 local students participated in the PlantingSeeds Projects’ educational and practical B&B Highway Program across the Northern Rivers where they learnt about local native plants and pollinators, citizen science and habitat construction. 

Community members also came together on Saturday, June 1 to plant 500 native tube stock with the support of Goonellabah Tucki Landcare group, Lismore Council and PlantingSeeds Project’s team members. The aim was to increase rainforest biodiversity at Tucki Tucki Creek, an urban sanctuary for threatened pollinators such as birds, bees and bats and other wildlife including resident platypuses. 

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