Kepak Athleague launches initiative to boost local biodiversity

Kepak Athleague has launched an innovative sustainability research initiative aimed at protecting, enhancing, and promoting biodiversity around the Roscommon based factory.

As part of the programme, Kepak has also become home to 100,000 honeybees (Apis mellifera), which are housed in two hives on site in Athleague.

In conjunction with the Irish Research Council and Trinity College Dublin, Kepak is funding pioneering research to enhance pollinator diversity through biodiversity-friendly management actions at farm and business level.

The research findings will support the development of more evidence-based guidelines for the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, the national road map that aims to promote and sustain bees, other pollinating insects, and wider biodiversity.

As part of the initiative, Kepak has designated ‘biodiversity champions’ at site level who act as ‘citizen scientists’ to conduct and monitor biodiversity.

At Kepak Athleague, citizen scientist Nicola Herron has established treatment plots in short and long grass meadows, wildflower and herb beds are being established in the green areas surrounding the plant.

The purpose of the initiative is to investigate what each treatment provides for different types of insects, in terms of flowers through the season; the cost and effort of implementing each treatment; and whether treatments are the same among sites in different parts of the country.

Commenting, Nicola Herron, Technical Manager, Meat Division at Kepak Athleague, said: “At Kepak Athleague, we are looking forward to working with Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Research council as part of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to discover which management actions we can take to help local biodiversity. We are hoping that the work done here will have a positive impact on local biodiversity in Roscommon as part of wider All-Ireland approach.

“Bees are the most important pollinator of crops and native plant species in Ireland. A recent study found that bees are worth €53 million a year to the economy so they are a key component of our wildlife. We are delighted at Kepak to be playing our part in promoting pollinator activity,” she added.