Wageningen, The Netherlands
July 2, 2012
Gasunie and Wageningen UR (University & Research centre) are to cooperate on a study into the living environment of bees in order to help to try and bring a halt to the decline in bees. Bees are of vital importance to the Dutch agriculture sector and have an estimated economic value of around 1.1 billion euros. One of the key factors affecting bee populations is habitat fragmentation and decline. Gasunie and Wageningen UR will research if industrial estates can serve as a good living environment for bees, and if so which possible adaptations would be required. The study is set to start this summer (in the Year of the Bee) and will run for three years.
New living environment
There is a lack of space in the densely populated country of the Netherlands. One possible solution is to stimulate the multifunctional use of land, and this is one of the principles of the joint research: Creating suitable habitat by combining the economic and ecological infrastructure.
CEO Paul van Gelder of Gasunie is enthusiastic about thepartnership: “Taking into account the major economic, agricultural and, therefore, social relevance of bees, we welcome the chance to participate in this cooperation. Together with Wageningen UR our aim is to come to the aid of bees in the Netherlands. As a company, Gasunie is aware of what is happening insociety. We are an integral part of our environment and take great care in how we handle it. Our pipelines and installations are spread throughout the Netherlands and we try to fit them into the landscape in the best way possible. This is why Gasunie locations are so ideal for this type of research.” The study will be carried out at Gasunie sites and at various pipeline trajectories in agricultural areas in the Dutch province of Drenthe, Overijssel and Groningen.
Wageningen UR is pleased with this latest public-private partnership. “The research is important for bees, the environment and the Dutch economy,” says Bram Cornelissen of Plant Research International, part of Wageningen UR. “We hope that this study can help to understand how we can make urban development and infrastructure more suitable for bees. We are mainly focusing on industrial estates and infrastructure due to their wide availability and the major opportunities they offer for the future. Gasunie will be sowing a flower mix in the research areas that will provide an excellent source of nutrition for various types of bees. Nesting opportunities will also be established. We will give Gasunie personnel a short training course in how to collect data during the study, which we will then analyse. In this way we will work towards a sustainable future for bees in the Netherlands.”
The study is part of the strategic research programme ‘Sustainable development of the green-blue space’, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation and realised by Wageningen UR. Gasunie is financing part of the research, providing several locations and will help take measurements. Wageningen UR is supplying the bee experts and will perform and coordinate the research.