Next EUROPARC Webinar: Creating bee-friendly cities – How can we bring pollinators back to our urban areas?

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Pollinators like bees are the health check of our ecosystem. As such, their decline in recent years is alarming for numerous reasons. Pollinators are an important component of biodiversity and essential for the survival of 84% of our crop species. To halt their decline it is therefore of great importance that, in highly urbanised Europe, cities implement pollinator friendly measures.

In this webinar, we will discover what Brussels (BE) and Utrecht (NL) are doing to support pollinators in returning and thriving in cities. In particular, we will look at the importance of welcoming wild bees back into our towns. The webinar will address the challenges in choosing the right plants and nesting materials for these pollinators, as well as the importance of well-functional ecological infrastructure in cities, for healthy ecosystems and the well-being of urban dwellers.

This webinar is part of the LIFE UrbanGreeningPlans project. In the new EU Biodiversity Strategy, European cities encompassing over 20.000 inhabitants are called upon to create Urban Greening Plans. These plans are designed to bring nature back into cities, support biodiversity and mitigate climate change. This LIFE preparatory project aims to address the problems cities face in the creation of these plans.


Welcome and Introduction to the webinar
By Esther Bossink – EUROPARC´s Communications Officer.

Setting the Scene
By Etienne Aulotte – Head of department – Nature & Agriculture development at Environment Brussels, Belgium.
Implementing an EU pollinators strategy at regional level is always a challenge. On the one hand, due to the strong pressure on biodiversity and green areas suffered by urbanized regions, such as the Brussels region, with more than 1,2 millions inhabitants. On the other hand, because the pollinators strategy needs to be well balanced and compatible with other ongoing regional strategies – like nature, water management and food strategies.

Why we urgently need a pollinators perspective in developing ecological infrastructures?
By Prof. Nicolas J. Vereecken – Agroecology Lab, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium.
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) was traditionally put forward as an « umbrella » species, but recent research calls for increased attention on wild pollinators, particularly the overlooked diversity of wild bees, each with its own ecological requirements (specific food plants, nesting sites, etc.). Nicolas will explain how cities must build up on the current knowledge about the ecological requirements of these « forgotten pollinators » to efficiently promote Green Infrastructure with Nature Based Solutions that encompass healthy ecosystems and contribute to the well-being of urban dwellers.

How Utrecht became the bee-friendliest municipality in The Netherlands.
By Gitty Korsuize – Urban ecologist, Municipality of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
In this presentation, we will get to know the measures used to make Utrecht more bee-friendly. Gitty will detail the smart procurement process that led to green roofs on bus stops and one of the largest bee-hotels in the world. Additionally, she will highlight how Utrecht is maintaining their green areas to support pollinators, and explain which obstacles they had to overcome in their organisation.

Let’s talk about it…
All participants will have the opportunity to exchange on the topic and/or ask questions.

Get to know the speakers

Etienne Aulotte – Head of department – Nature & Agriculture development at Environment Brussels, Belgium.
Bioengineer with 20 years of experience in environmental issues, Etienne Aulotte is since 2008 head of the department Nature and Agriculture Department at Brussels Environment, responsible for the implementation of the regional nature plan and the deployment of small agro-ecological projects within the cities.

Nicolas Vereecken – Associate Professor Agroecology Lab, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium.
Specialised in Agroecology and Entomology, Nicolas participates in several international research projects on bees and other pollinators. Since 2016, he has been actively involved in the International Master Programme on Agroecology and the first European Bee Course, aimed at young researchers willing to improve their taxonomic and ecological skills on wild bees.

Gitty Korsuize – Advisor urban greenery and nature, Municipality of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Gitty is an urban ecologist, working for 20 years, as an advisor of the Municipality of Utrecht. Gitty likes connecting people with nature, nature with people and people with an interest in nature with each other. She sees opportunities to preserve and enhance nature everywhere. She is currently the Chair of Eurocities Working Group on Green Areas and Biodiversity.

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