The Green Circle Bee-landscape covers an area of over 20,000 ha and is situated in and around the Dutch cities of Leiden, Zoetermeer, and Alphen a/d Rijn, in the province of Zuid-Holland which happens to be one of the most densely populated parts of the globe with 1,300 people per km2.
The aim of the programme is to reverse the general loss of important pollinators such as bees, hoverflies and butterflies in the landscape. This is being done through the creation of a region-wide network of socially and ecologically connected habitats, offering food, nesting places and shelter. This should also secure and future-proof the pollination of agricultural crops and wild plants.
This has already resulted in the adoption of pollinator-friendly management systems in the many business sites, municipal parks, private gardens, field margins and road verges.
Since the start of 2015 the number of partners in the Bee-landscape social network has steadily increased from 17 to 42 in 2020. The partners come from from a wide range of entities including:
- the municipalities in the region; Alphen a/d Rijn, Zoetermeer, Leiden, Leiderdorp, Nieuwkoop and Zoeterwoude;
- the province of Zuid-Holland;
- other regional and national authorities like water management bodies (‘hoogheemraadschap’) Rijnland and infrastructure management authorities e.g Rijkswaterstaat;
- private sector entities such as farmers, Heineken Nederland B.V., Dunea, JUB Holland and AkzoNobel B.V.;
scientific institutes like, Wageningen Environmental Research, the national biodiversity centre Naturalis, the Vlinderstichting, and the Stichting EIS representing science;
- and other civil society bodies like, NL Greenlabel, the beekeepers society Leiden en omstreken and the non-governmental organizations like IVN, ANV de Groene Klaver, Zuid-Hollands Landschap;
The general commitment from the over 40 partners of the Green Circle Bee-landscape is to collaborate towards the sustainable management of land, for example, by the cautious use or avoidance of harmful pesticides.
The coordinators in the Regional environmental protection agency, West Holland, have achieved this by developing a social network of dedicated actors managing diverse habitats. This partnership is supported under a common vision by providing relevant information and experience on designing and maintaining the ecologically sustainable network for pollinators. Through this project, the province of South Holland has the ambition to become the most bee-friendly province in the Netherlands.
The VCA managers bringing together this partnership, see this evolving landscape as an important asset to local residents:
“The bee landscape not only provides flowery connections for bees and other pollinators, but also connects people in their passion to contribute to this”.
The detailed management plan (please refer to the VCA report tab) addresses specific conservation actions including:
- a guide and helpdesk for land managers (with practical hands-on information regarding habitat management for bees);
- development of eco-profiles for all the locations;
- support with monitoring and evaluation (e.g. baseline inventories);
- encouraging flower strips along critical infrastructure like roads, railway etc.;
- agreements over the use of pesticides (municipalities do not use pesticides anymore and farmers have reduced the use of pesticides);
- creating more bee habitats (like a B&B for year round feeding); and
- encouraging more partners to sign up.
One of the earliest successes contributing to this bee-landscape came from the project ‘Biodiversity at the Brewery’. Here, the brewery terrain of Heineken was transformed to increase biodiversity – without disrupting the industrial character of the site. Additionally, results from a monitoring survey in 2018 showed an increase in average species richness per research location of 21% for bees and 1% for hoverflies compared to the initial baseline study in 2015.
A campaign which will crowd fund and raise awareness among other citizens, farmers, local authorities and private companies, is also part of the project.
See the links below for a range of supporting documents, reports and audits verifying the conservation impact of the Green Circle Bee-Landscape. These will be regularly updated in line with Gold standard requirements.