Helping urban pollinators in Cornwall

Jo Price meets Charlotte Rankin, an ecology graduate involved in bee and pollinator conservation.

Charlotte Rankin

When Charlotte Rankin heard that Buglife’s Urban Buzz project was coming to Falmouth, she couldn’t wait to get involved in creating pollinator-friendly habitats in her local area.

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“I was buzzing!” she exclaims. “Prior to sowing areas, I searched through recent records of local pollinators with notable conservation status and identified their main food plants, so they could be incorporated into the wildflower mixes.”

Throughout autumn and spring, Charlotte is busy seed-sowing and plug-planting with other local volunteers to create vibrant wildflower meadows around Cornish towns.

“I’m on a mission, this summer, to record and monitor the pollinator species visiting these blooms,” she says. “Submitting sightings of pollinators is vital for their conservation, because we know where they can be found and how well they are faring.”

Hairy-footed flower bee. © Hans Lang/Getty
Hairy-footed flower bee. © Hans Lang/Getty

As a ‘BeeWalker’ for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the conservation and ecology graduate regularly walks a transect at her local reservoir from March to October, recording her bumblebee sightings and submitting them to the scheme.

In 2018, she recorded over 100 individuals and seven different species on her ‘BeeWalks’. “By becoming a BeeWalker, when you walk your dog, run or go on a weekend stroll, you can contribute to bumblebee conservation,” says the naturalist. “In my opinion, that is the best type of exercise!”

A red tailed bumblebee on a dandelion. © T Bradford/Getty
A red tailed bumblebee on a dandelion. © T Bradford/Getty

Charlotte is also involved in her home town’s pollinator project, Penryn Buzz, and has raised over £300 to create a pollinator-friendly flowerbed along a residential street.

“This was once a disused space with nothing but two ornamental palm trees,” she says. “Now it provides a little urban haven for pollinators, with a seasonal succession of nectar- and pollen-rich garden plants.”

By providing outreach materials to educate and enthuse the local community about pollinators, including an educational booklet for adults and an activity booklet for children, Charlotte is encouraging people to take notice of the insects around them.

“Pollinators, despite being vitally important and under threat, are often among the more overlooked species of our natural world, and I am acting to change this,” she says. “My work shows that we can help to conserve invertebrates on our doorsteps.”


This article originally appeared in BBC Wildlife. Take a look inside the current issue and find out how to subscribe.

Charlotte is now working at Gosforth Nature Reserve in Tyne and Wear.

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Main image: Charlotte Rankin. © Kevin Thomas