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Blooming marvellous! Meadow project wins Bristol Genius Award

The winning team, pictured l-r: Becky Coffin (Meadow Bristol), Dr Katherine Baldock (Urban Pollinators Project), Teija Ahjokoski (Meadow Bristol) and Professor Jane Memmott (Urban Pollinators Project)

The winning team, pictured l-r: Becky Coffin (Meadow Bristol), Dr Katherine Baldock (Urban Pollinators Project), Teija Ahjokoski (Meadow Bristol) and Professor Jane Memmott (Urban Pollinators Project)

Press release issued: 21 May 2013

A project to plant flower meadows across the city has won the Mayor’s Bristol Genius Award for its efforts to transform the urban environment for pollinating insects, while making Bristol more attractive for residents and visitors. Mayor George Ferguson announced the winner at last night’s Festival of Ideas awards evening, marking the second year in a row that a project at the University of Bristol has scooped top honours.

Mayor George Ferguson announced the winner at last night’s Festival of Ideasawards evening, marking the second year in a row that a project at the University of Bristol has scooped top honours.

The Urban Pollinators Project, which has been working in partnership with the City Council’s Meadow Bristol project, has planted flower meadows in Bristol’s public parks and in schools, turning them into a haven for pollinating insects and a visually stunning floral display for people to enjoy.

Judges felt it best exemplified Bristol as a city that excels in ideas which have the potential to change lives for the better. The other two shortlisted ideas were the Bristol Pound and Ultra Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), a new and innovative on-demand transport system for developed urban environments.

Andrew Kelly, Director of the Festival of Ideas, said: “In a city as creative as Bristol it’s easy to get a huge long list of the best ideas, hard to get a shortlist of three given the quality of submissions, and even harder to choose a winner. This project stood out for its great vision and passion. It addresses a critical issue of our time and shows what we can all do to make things better. It’s a worthy winner and we’re delighted to give this award.”

Pollinators are in serious decline in the UK and elsewhere, and this could have a serious impact on food production and natural biodiversity. Although urban areas are usually thought to have a negative effect on wildlife, research is demonstrating that some urban habitats can support good numbers of pollinators.

Professor Jane Memmott, from the School of Biological Sciences, is leading the Urban Pollinators Project and said: “I’m really delighted that the Urban Pollinators Project, joint with Meadow Bristol, has won the Mayor’s Bristol Genius Award. It’s been a real team effort.

“This year, the Urban Pollinators Project is adding 15 huge urban meadows to the city with the University providing the experimental design and the Council providing the meadow sites and expertise in planting.  Local schools will be visited by the Avon Wildlife Trust who will be bringing live bumble bee colonies for them to see.

“Working closely as a team, our aim is to improve the lives of urban pollinators who get to feed on the meadows and urban people who get to enjoy watching them flower.”

The project will also be visiting schools, in partnership with the Avon Wildlife Trust, to educate Bristol’s youngest residents about the importance of insect pollinators, and will share key findings of the research to-date at a conference hosted by the University in 2014.

Meadow Bristol will be sowing nearly 6,000 sq m of meadows at 33 sites across Bristol – including on road verges, roundabouts and in parks - with plans for much wider coverage in the future.

Teija Ahjokoshi, from Bristol City Council’s Meadow Bristol project, said: “Together with the Urban Pollinators Project, we at the Meadow Bristol team were honoured to be shortlisted for the Mayor's Bristol Genius Award. We were extremely pleased and surprised to win the prize, as all the short listed projects were of a very high standard.

"We’d like to take this opportunity to give thanks to all our existing sponsors and partners who have helped us to get this far. We hope to create more meadows by attracting further sponsorship to this genius award winning idea.”

The Urban Pollinators Project is a collaborative research project between the University of Bristol, University of Reading, University of Leeds and the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with local councils and wildlife trusts.  It is funded jointly by a grant from the BBSRC, Defra, NERC, the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust, under the Insect Pollinators Initiative.

The winner of the first Bristol Genius Award last year was the University of Bristol's Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), known as Children of the 90s - a long-term research project that is assisting scientists all over the world with research into a wide range of health problems.

Further information

Sustainable Landscapes for the Future: Research, Design and Management

On 18 July 2013, the University of Bristol is hosting a one day workshop that will bring together different sectors of the Landscape Industry on the subject of sustainable landscape research, design, and management. The aim is to facilitate discussion between a wide range of people working in the Landscape Industry leading to future research ideas and opportunities. The event is aimed at landscape architects, landscape planners, academic researchers, industry researchers, environmental practitioners (local councils, charities), anyone with an interest in the sustainable management of landscapes.

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