The theme of World Environment Day 2021 is ‘Reimagine. Recreate. Restore’ as this year marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which is intended to raise awareness of the importance of protecting and reviving ecosystems around the world and moving toward a sustainable future.

Reimagining, recreating, and restoring is exactly what Climate Action North has been striving towards through the Pollinator Parks initiative, which focuses on reversing the alarming decline in wild pollinators by rewilding and transforming outdoor areas on retail and business parks into ecological oases to help bees, butterflies and birds thrive and flourish.

To date, Pollinator Parks have been established at Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Centre in County Durham and at the Business Innovation Centre (BIC) in Sunderland where wildflower mini-meadows have been introduced on both sites showing how small-scale rewilding can practically support and care for wildlife and repair broken ecosystems.

An official opening event for the Pollinator Park at Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Centre is set to take place at the end of July and more work is planned for later in the year at the site to restore an area of land for wildlife, pollinators and create an outdoor classroom for climate action learning and which will benefit the local community.

Climate Action North’s Managing Director, Sharon Lashley, said: “Pollinator Parks is our way of contributing to the UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration and ties in strongly with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which many businesses are now incorporating into their CSR activities.  

“Typically, business parks tend to focus on landscaping areas, which may be tidy and manicured but definitely lack nectar-rich areas for pollinators to land,” Sharon continued, “and this is what inspired us to set up Pollinator Parks. We want to work with more businesses to inspire them to restore their business park areas, providing essential areas for pollinators whilst also learning about taking climate action for ecosystem restoration.”

Above left: Butterfly sculpture by Ruth Thompson of Sylvan Skills.

Dalton Park is the first outlet shopping centre in the North to introduce a Pollinator Park on its land. The move to introduce the mini-meadow on Dalton Park followed research by the Butterfly Conservation outlining the importance of butterflies on site at Dalton Park including the Dingy Skipper, Common Blue and Grayling.

Jerry Hatch, Centre Manager at Dalton Park Outlet Shopping Centre, managed by Realm Ltd, said: “Restoring nature is becoming the most important endeavour of our time and we are proud to playing our part by working with Climate Action North and being the first retail park in the North to host a Pollinator Park.

“By reimagining, recreating, and restoring our outdoor area and introducing the meadow we not only have a beautiful, colourful, and welcoming landscape for our customers, hardworking staff, and retailers to enjoy but also a safe haven for pollinator insects, such as bees and butterflies, whose functions are estimated to be worth £690 million each year to the UK’s economy alone.”

The Pollinator Parks initiative, which is sponsored by Washington-based Solar Panel installers AR Power, is the registered trademarked programme of Climate Action North to rewild the business and retail parks throughout the North of England.

Other Climate Action North Sponsors are Resilient Business Systems; Arktek Group Limited; JC Atkinson, and The Stephenson-Mohl Group.

Businesses wishing to set up a Pollinator Park or find out more about sponsorship opportunities can contact Sharon at sharon@climateactionnortheast.org.uk

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