John O’Gaunt Golf Club in Bedfordshire, England, has become the first club to sign up for the Operation Pollinator biodiversity project run by Syngenta.
The five year project aims to restore 10,000ha of wildlife habitats and enhance the ecological value of golf courses, farms and other open spaces. John O’Gaunt greenkeeper Steve Thompson says he plans to use the techniques learned at workshops run by Syngenta earlier this year to plant up specific areas on the club’s two courses.
“Operation Pollinator looks an exciting opportunity to extend the environmental work that we are already doing at the club and create a specific ecological resource for pollinating insects,” said Thompson. “We have appreciated the training given and the opportunities provided to help market the club.”
He highlighted the objective of establishing a wildflower mix especially designed for golf course environments is not only to provide the necessary pollen and nectar to attract and support insects, but also to look visually attractive and create added interest for players to enjoy the ecological diversity.
Syngenta’s Rod Burke said: “Bumblebees play a crucial role as nature’s pollinator, but they have been in serious decline and need our help now. Helping to resurrect bumblebee populations will further prove that golf courses can be managed in harmony with the environment and give both the players and managers immense pride in their club. We are aiming to get 250 clubs across the country involved with Operation Pollinator over the next three years, and would encourage others to sign up and see what it can do for them and the industry.”
As the first club to sign up for Operation Pollinator, Burke presented Thompson with a Bee Hotel, intended to create a new nesting habitat for mason bees, as well as an additional focal point for club members. Mason bees are an important species of solitary bee, which will also benefit from food resources supplied by the Operation Pollinator habitat.