- Biodiversity Action Plan
- Bee Strategy
- Bats and Development
- Go Wild in the Garden
- Kittiwakes on the Tyne
- Living Churchyards
- Local Wildlife Sites
- Red Squirrel
- Slow Worms
- Urban Foxes
- Urban Meadows
- Wildlife at Work
Newcastle City Council’s Bee Strategy has been created to promote the importance of bees. There are over 200 species of bees in the UK, but bee populations have been declining in the last few years due to various factors including loss of habitat, disease and use of pesticides.
Bees need your help; many of their nesting sites and their wildflower food supplies have been destroyed by modern farming practices and urban development. As a result about a quarter of our bees are now endangered species. Moreover the use of herbicides has reduced the nectar and pollen supply, while pesticides have affected the bee population directly. Summer in the garden just wouldn’t be the same without the gentle hum of bees on a warm sunny day.
The aims and objectives of Newcastle’s Bee Strategy are:
- to raise awareness amongst the community.
- to adapt the local environment to provide the right conditions for all kinds of bees to increase.
Why do we need bees?
The pollination of crops by honeybees is worth an estimated £200 million each year to the British economy. In order for plants to produce fruit and seeds their flowers must be pollinated. Bees are responsible for the pollination of more than 40 important food crops grown in this country.
Apples, pears, cherries, raspberries, blackcurrants, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins and blackberries are just some of the fruits that are pollinated by bees. We eat the roots and leaves of plants like turnips, cabbage, beetroot, carrots and celery but without pollination we would have no seeds to grow new plants. Oilseed rape and sunflowers produce seeds to be crushed to make cooking oils.
Farm animals also feed on plants pollinated by bees, such as clover and swede. It is estimated that 1/3 of the food that we eat relies on bees for pollination.
So how can we help the humble bee?
- Plant bee friendly plants in your garden or allotment
- Use pesticides carefully and only when really necessary
- Thoroughly wash used honey jars before recycling. Believe it or not, but honey brought in from overseas often contains spores of a bacterial disease, which is fatal to honeybees. If you leave an unwashed honey jar outside it encourages honeybees to feed on the remaining honey. There is a good possibility that this will infect the bee and in turn the bee will infect the rest of the colony resulting in death of the colony. These spores do not affect humans in any way.
- Treat yourself to some locally produced honey.
To help stop the decline in the bee population there are lots of things you can do to help.
- Buzz Word (pdf, 676kb)
Keep your eyes open
If you spot a bumble bee or one of their nests please register this on the Environmental Records Information Centre North East (ERIC).
Make sure your plants are bee friendly
- Plants to attract bees (pdf 24kb)
- Build them a Home (pdf 1.4mb)
- Gardening for Bumblebees (pdf 344kb)
- Suggested Flowers for Bumblebees (pdf 22kb)
- Native Food Plants for Bees (pdf 16kb)
Our work with schools
Some of the most rewarding and beneficial work on raising awareness around Bees has been carried out is with the Schools in the city. The children of Newcastle have thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in learning about the problems facing the Bee population. They have learnt to respect bees and have created gardens with Bee friendly flora. Some schools are interested in having their own hives and having talks from local Bee Keepers. All this work is to ensure that the adults of the tomorrow understand the importance of and how to respect our Bee population.
A bumble bee garden exists including 100 native plants in a special section. High quality signage has been installed and explains the bumble bee life cycle along with a list of bee friendly flowers. The allotment is open on Saturdays to visitors. For more information go to: www.moorsideallotments.co.uk
Bee keeper training
For more information, visit the Pure Honeycomb website.
Newcastle District Beekeepers Association
All bats are European Protected Species, which means it is an offence to harm or disturb bats or their roosts whether this is deliberate or unintentional. Roosts are protected whether bats are present or not. Full details of legislation relating to bats can be found at: www.naturalengland.org.uk
Bats are found throughout Newcastle in both urban and rural environments. They can be found in new and old buildings and in a range of other structures.
- Bats & Development (pdf, 3mb)
Go wild in the garden
Gardens, no matter how large or small have great potential for wildlife in providing shelter, food and places to breed. Wildlife gardening will bring life into your garden and make it a more interesting place. Gardens are stepping stones which form corridors to allow wildlife to move freely into the wider countryside.
- Go Wild in the Garden (pdf, 3mb)
The River Tyne is home to an important breeding population of around 800 pairs of Kittiwakes. This includes around 600 pairs at Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside. The Kittiwakes that breed along the Tyne nest on man-made structures such as the Tyne Bridge.
Churchyards are important places for people but they can also be important areas for wildlife too. Even in our busy cities these habitats remain largely undisturbed and numerous plants and animals have space to thrive. So, what is often a peaceful place for contemplation can also become a haven for wildlife.
- Living Churchyards (pdf, 1mb)
Local Wildlife Sites
Local Sites represent a network of areas with significant habitat, species and geological interest. They are designated as either Local Wildlife Sites or Local Geological Sites according to their interest.
Local Wildlife Sites are recognised for their substantial ecological value, often supporting locally and nationally threatened species and habitats such as species-rich grasslands, semi-natural ancient woodlands, blanket bog and water vole.
- Local Sites for Wildlife & Geology (pdf, 3mb)
The distinctive red squirrel is the only native squirrel in the UK. However, this beautiful creature is now an endangered species. The main reason for its decline in numbers is competition with grey squirrels, disease and habitat loss. The larger non-native grey squirrel, which was introduced into this country in the 19th Century has advantages over its native red cousin such as being able to survive harsh weather and periods of food shortage as well as being more successful at breeding and competing for food. As a result, these two species cannot live together for long. Expansion of the grey squirrel, will, therefore, sadly be at the cost of the red.
Grey squirrels carry and transmit a disease called the ‘Squirrel Pox virus’, which while harmless to them is highly contagious and lethal to red squirrels. This disease is a major cause of the decline and death of the red squirrel and can quickly devastate our local populations.
The Tyneside area is amongst one of the last urban areas in England to be home to the red squirrel. As a result, North Tyneside Council and Newcastle City Council are working with the Northern Red Squirrels Conservation Group as part of the Council’s joint Biodiversity Action Plan, to help raise awareness about the plight of this species.
This group would like your help in submitting any sightings of red or grey squirrels in your area. This will enable further action to be taken to protect and conserve this species. If you would like to help, please click on the link to the red squirrel group attached below to record any sightings. There is also lots of useful information on this website regarding red squirrel and further contact information: www.northernredsquirrels.org.uk
Please join our survey of Britain’s most secretive reptile and help us to get a better idea of the distribution of this shy and completely harmless species across Newcastle and North Tyneside.
- Slow Worms information (pdf, 123Kb) | poster (pdf, 313Kb)
- Have you seen a slow worm? If so, Fill in our online survey.
A swift’s entire life is spent in the air where it feeds, drinks, mates and sleeps. Swifts fly at least 560 miles per day during the nesting season; breeding is the only time swifts stop flying; they nest in holes in walls or under eaves.
As a species, swifts have now been placed on the Amber list of birds of Conservation Concern, as their numbers have declined by over a third since 1995. The reason is as yet unknown; however one of the reasons may be that human activity is destroying existing nest sites, and driving swifts away.
Swifts typically use the same nest site year after year, so when a site is disturbed, they often don’t return and will look for an alternative nesting location.
For more information on swifts and how you can help these amazing birds, have a look at the links below:
- Tyneside Urban Swifts Conservation Project (pdf, 3mb)
- Swift Bricks (pdf, 3mb)
Foxes, which are a member of the dog family, first started to colonise our towns and cities in the 1930s. Attracted by a plentiful supply of food from bins and litter on the streets, the red fox’s adaptable and opportunistic nature has made it a very successful urban resident. Research has shown that the fox population of our cities has been stable for many years with no significant increases or decreases in fox numbers. The population is self-regulating according to the availability of habitat and food.
The Newcastle Approach to Foxes:
In common with many other authorities, Newcastle does not support or practice lethal control. It supports coexistence and humane deterrence. Foxes are not vermin; they are part of our urban wildlife. There is no legislation to compel Local Councils to undertake control of foxes. Residents are given advice and encouraged to adopt humane solutions to their fox problems.
- The Urban Fox (pdf, 3mb)
Since the end of the Second World War, Britain's wildflower meadows have decreased by more than 90%. This has been due to changes in farming practice, urban expansion and development. Although we cannot recreate traditional wildflower meadows in a short period of time, it is possible to create species rich grasslands and meadows, which are beneficial to our native wildlife in the urban environment.
- Creating & Managing Urban Meadows (pdf, 2mb)
Wildlife at work
Biodiversity, or the variety of life around us, is an essential part of our environment and is fundamental to our quality of life and contributes to our social and economic well being. Everyone, including business depends upon the natural world for their livelihoods, quality of life, and to provide basic ecological services on which all life depends. It helps to stabilise the climate and provide clean air and water, services vital for a stable operating environment.
Wildlife is disappearing at a frightening pace all across the world. This loss of this natural heritage represents a risk to business. As diversity disappears, so do our raw materials and the opportunities for new products, new technologies and new business opportunities.
Businesses can play a positive role in biodiversity conservation and many companies are now recognising the importance of incorporating environmental and social concerns into their business plans and processes.
The leaflets below show how businesses can do their bit for biodiversity:
Landscape and Ecology Team,
Newcastle upon Tyne,