We're going on a bug hunt!

16 May 2016 14:56:09.670

PA 116/16

Famous naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough is calling on gardeners, schools and community groups across the UK to take part in a giant survey of pollinating insects… and The University of Nottingham is joining in. 

Flying insects like bees and butterflies are in decline across the UK because of a growing shortage of places to nest and feed, and because of pesticide use, climate change and competition from invasive species. Around 80 per cent of British plants are pollinated by insects and this natural process is vital to wildlife ecology and the UK’s arable farming industry. 

The Polli:Nation Survey has been created by the Open Air Laboratories Network (OPAL) to try to build a more accurate picture of the current health of the UK’s native pollinating insects. The survey is being led by the charity, Learning through Landscapes and is funded by the National Lottery.  

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Everyone is being encouraged to:


  • Survey their outdoor space using the new OPAL Polli:Nation Survey.
  • Make improvements for pollinators to their outdoor space.
  • Re-survey their outdoor space to see the impacts the improvements have had.

The University of Nottingham’s OPAL Community Scientist, Sarah Pierce, is encouraging everyone in the Midlands to get involved. Sarah said: “Pollinators are such an important part of our environment, but they are struggling. Often it’s hard to know what you can do to help, but the Polli:Nation survey offers a simple, fun way to learn about pollinators and the plants and habitats that they rely on.  You can contribute directly to our understanding of how different insects are faring across the country.  From bees to beetles, butterflies to hoverflies, the more we know about our pollinators the better placed we’ll be to protect and support them. 

Sir David Attenborough is backing the survey as patron of Learning through Landscapes. He said: “I am delighted that the Learning through Landscapes project ‘Polli:Nation’ has been given funding support by the Heritage Lottery Fund and I am looking forward to seeing thousands of school children gaining an understanding of pollinator species and their essential role in our world today. Polli:Nation is a vital support system and without it we could not exist - this is very important work indeed." 

The Polli:Nation Survey has been developed by a consortium of conservation organisations including OPAL, The Field Studies Council, Buglife, Butterfly Conservation, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. 

The data collected through the Polli:Nation Survey will be used to inform research on the health and status of pollinating insects across the UK.  

Free survey resources can be downloaded at www.opalexplorenature.org/polli-nation and results can be submitted either online or by post. 

A video featuring The University of Nottingham’s OPAL Community Scientist, Dr Sarah Pierce, is available here.

Learning through Landscapes (LTL)/ (Grounds for Learning (GFL) in Scotland):  is the national charity working to ensure that every child benefits from outdoor learning and play. It advises government, engages the private sector and empowers school communities and early years settings to make the best of their outside spaces for children’s education and wellbeing.

In a recent survey of schools that improved their grounds with LTL support, 88% said it had resulted in more creative learning and environmental awareness among pupils.  Despite such benefits, 80% of teachers in a recent MORI poll said they believe that their school is failing to make the most of their outdoor spaces.   LTL aims to change this – and is the only organisation focusing specifically on school environments in order to do so. Over the past 20 years, LTL has worked directly with over 10,000 schools, raised over 24 million pounds for grounds improvements and trained thousands of teachers and practitioners to help them rethink the design and use of their outdoor environments. www.ltl.org.uk @ltl_outdoors / @gflscotland 

Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) is a nation-wide partnership initiative funded by the Big Lottery Fund that will inspire communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local environments. It aims to create a new generation of nature-lovers by stimulating interest through local and national projects which are accessible, fun and relevant to anyone who wants to take part. For more information, please visit www.OPALexplorenature.org @OPALnature   

Polli:Nation is a UK wide partnership whose purpose is to create a network of knowledgeable and enthused young conservationists across the UK, who have turned their school grounds and local walk-to community spaces into diverse habitats full of pollinating insects and wildlife.. The Polli:Nation project- funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)- is working closely with 260 chosen schools providing curriculum linked resources, training opportunities for teachers, funds for physical developments and support and guidance from one of LTL’s trained experts. Many of these resources – in particular the Polli:Nation survey – have been developed to inspire an even wider group of schools, youth groups and families who wish to learn about the different pollinators we depend on and how to identify and survey them. www.polli-nation.co.uk @ltl_pollination 

Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk  @heritagelottery @HLFLondon 

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Sarah Pierce in the School of Life Sciences, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 846 6742, sarah.pierce@nottingham.ac.uk

Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.rayner@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 74 84413  Location: University Park

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