The launch event of Bee the Change was a huge success. The site at Pradannack Downs on the Lizard Peninsula was buzzing over the recent bank holiday. Members of the drug and alcohol treatment support group, UFO, all pitched in to make the long weekend one to remember.
The first order of business for UFO and Goodisplanetearth members was to clear a large section of one of the fields on the site, so that there was enough room to pitch their tents for the weekend’s campout. It was hard going. But after a well earned tea break, tents went up and the event started to hit its stride.
The next job was to start clearing a section of roadway, to create an access to the large field at the rear of the land that will eventually be used for permaculture. Front runners in the clearance team set about removing some large gorse bushes that had taken root among the rubbish. Behind them, a group cleared ground-level rubbish. The site has been fly-tipped on for a great many years (evidenced by the 1970s vacuum cleaner and typewriter we found).
Among the appliances removed, three fridges were pulled out and all gradually filled with broken glass fragments that were painstakingly removed by hand. Asbestos was found and carefully removed, as well as all manner of other weird and less than wonderful rubbish.
While trash was in abundance, we’re saddened to report that what was missing was the crush of creepy crawlies you’d expect to find when digging through the undergrowth. It wasn’t all bad news though. We were lucky enough to see an adder sunning itself on one of the paths that we’d created prior to the event. It was over a foot long and had a beautiful diamond pattern on its back. It was particularly nice to see, as just last month the Daily Mail reported: “Scientists say Britain's only poisonous snake is in more urgent need of help than any other reptile or amphibian species in the UK.” The article went on to say that adders are rapidly declining in numbers and the species is already extinct in some counties, including Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire, primarily due to the extensive damage being done to hibernation sites, such as rabbit holes and tree roots.
Goodisplanetearth was lucky enough to also have a local herpetologist, Alan Lilley, visit the site. He pointed out a frog species that is also suffering from declining populations, yet seemed to be thriving in one of the many onsite pools. And although we haven’t been lucky enough to spot it yet, we also enjoyed listening to the distinctive call of a local cuckoo. This was a real treat, as their numbers are said to have fallen by 65% since the early 1980s. This is just the beginning – we plan to carry out a critical study of the flora and fauna in the near future, which will include a detailed species count.
Another bonus of the event was the attendance of PhD researcher, Tom Moseley, who will be helping us collate the available research on declining bee populations to support our ongoing lobbying of UK Government to get neonictinoid pesticides off shelves. We were also inundated with offers of time from highly skilled landscapers, builders and bee keepers. We have even had not one but two offers of land that we could use for further development of the bee sanctuary. Plans for the future include working with the local colleges and universities on research projects and other developments.
We’ve been grateful to everyone who has already donated their time – and to those who plan to come along in the future. All in all, it’s very exciting here at Bee the Change! If you’d like to get involved in the project or volunteer at the service, please get in touch with Goodisplanetearth chairman, Malcolm Higginbottom, on 07429399432.